Special project: Access to public washrooms in Guelph

Find a park washroom

If you’re looking for a park washroom, please refer to our interactive map on the Find a park washroom page.

About this project

Public washrooms are important for everyone in Guelph, but washrooms aren’t always available and not everyone has access to washrooms when they need them. Sometimes people are forced to go outside, especially in the Downtown area. Other people may be forced to stay at home if public washrooms are closed or not accessible to them.

The goal of this project is to identify ways to improve access to public washrooms in the city.

The City of Guelph, the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics (University of Guelph) and the Guelph Lab are working together on the project.

What is a public washroom? We defined public washrooms as washrooms that are owned by the City and available to everyone. We included washrooms in parks, libraries, community centres, and at City Hall. Some City-owned washrooms are not seen as widely available to everyone and/or have irregular opening hours. For example, washrooms that are only available to City staff (e.g., inside office buildings), washrooms that are linked to recreational programs (e.g., washrooms in the change rooms of arenas), and washrooms linked to events (e.g., the River Run Centre).

What’s open and when?

We created maps that show where washrooms are located and when they are open. The maps show that:

  • There are permanent washrooms at 24 locations in Guelph, plus 51 portable washrooms in summer and 25 in winter (portable washrooms are often known as porta-potties).
  • There are no permanent washrooms open overnight anywhere in the city.
  • There are limited washroom options in the Downtown area.
  • Some parks, trail networks and splashpads have limited access to washrooms

The map below shows which washrooms are available in the Downtown area. To see maps for the whole city and learn more about the research behind the maps, the “What’s open and when?” report is included in the “Resources and documents” section below.

Next steps: Talking to residents

During Summer and Fall 2023, we are interviewing people in Guelph about their experiences using public washrooms (and what happens when they can’t access a public washroom). We are talking with Guelph residents and frequent visitors, such as those who work in Guelph but live elsewhere. We are interested in the perspectives of everyone in Guelph but especially people who may be most affected when washrooms aren’t available. This includes elderly people, people with physical disabilities, people who experience urgent washroom needs (e.g., those with Crohn’s and Colitis), people experiencing homelessness, and people who work outside or drive for their job (e.g., delivery drivers and taxi drivers).

We will combine the interviews and maps into a report, which will include recommendations to City staff and Council about how to improve access to public washrooms in Guelph.

Map of public washrooms in Downtown Guelph

Check out the map below to see where public washrooms are located in Downtown Guelph. The map also shows the type of washroom available (permanent or portable, accessible, or not) and their approximate opening hours.

Coloured circles around each point on the map show a catchment area of 400 metres. This distance is equivalent to a 5-10 minute walk or roll and is commonly used in municipal planning to determine how far people are likely to travel to access services like bus stops.

Note: The washrooms at Goldie Mills are under renovation and were not included in the map.

Downtown Guelph

Map of washrooms in Downtown Guelph

  • Wednesday afternoon, summer in Downtown: There are permanent washrooms at 3 locations, all of which are universal (has both gender neutral and accessible options). There are portable washrooms at two locations, one of which is accessible and one that is not.
  • Sunday afternoon, summer in Downtown: There is only 1 location that has a permanent washroom, and it is universal. There are portable washrooms at two locations, one of which is accessible.
  • Friday night, summer in Downtown: There are no permanent washrooms available. There are portable washrooms at two locations, one of which is accessible.
  • Sunday afternoon, winter in Downtown: There is 1 permanent washroom at the Market Square that is only open when the ice rink is open. There is only 1 non-accessible portable washroom.

Resources and documents

GuelphLAB logo
University of Guelph College of Social and Applied Human Sciences - Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics logo
City of Guelph logo