BTV committee approves action plan on increasing bathroom access downtown

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An initiative to improve public bathroom accessibility in downtown Burlington has moved forward.

The Burlington City Council Public Safety Committee passed a recommended action plan last week.

Currently, the only public bathrooms are at city hall and are only open during regular business hours.

Committee chair Adam Roof says it’s important to provide bathrooms for not only the millions of people who visit the Church Street Marketplace every year but also people who are homeless.

The plan lays out four action points: completing an inventory of all publicly available bathrooms, compiling a report on best practices other communities have used for this issue, accounting of potential locations for new bathroom facilities and development of a “public outreach and education plan” to better inform the public on the location of bathrooms.

If the city council eventually decides to add bathrooms, Roof says, they must be closely monitored.

“It’s not just building it and unlocking it. It’s doing those things but also making sure that someone is there keeping an eye on things. Yes, there’s a cleanliness aspect to it but we have to be realistic to ourselves about the impact of the opioid crisis,” said Roof, an independent representing Ward 8.

Roof wants any future attendant to have training in social services and how to administer Narcan.

Once the committee fine tunes the plan next month, it will move on to the full council for further action.

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