The City of Abbotsford is planning on building new bathrooms in several city parks, including Berry Park. Google Street View image

Several Abbotsford parks set for new bathrooms; vandals help drive price tags above $500k

City of Abbotsford asking feds and province for money to speed up shelter and washroom park plans

New bathrooms are set to go in at several Abbotsford parks over the coming years. But the speed at which they are opened to users will depend, in part, on whether senior levels of government come through with millions in grant funding.

As it stands, the city wants to build one new set of toilets and one new shelter in city parks for each of the next five years.

But the city plans to ask the federal and provincial governments for $2.5 million to help speed up the plans. Staff will hope to get the money from the governments’ Community, Culture and Recreation Program. the program is meant to support projects that “improve access to and/or increased quality of cultural, recreational and/or community infrastructure.”

If the grant is approved, Abbotsford will have to pay just $900,000 of the $3.7 million cost of the new shelters and bathrooms. Each bathroom is expected to cost upwards of $600,000, while the shelters are expected to cost around $125,000 each.

Part of the application requires municipalities to show how their projects would help Indigenous or vulnerable populations. That, the city says, may result in a re-ordering of priorities within the grant application.

Under the city’s current plans Albert Dyck Park is set to get a new toilet next year, while a new shelter would be built in Delair Park.

Over the following years, the following parks would get new toilets:

  • Berry Park (2022)
  • Jubilee Park (2023)
  • Swensson Park (2024)
  • Clearbrook Park (2025)

New shelters would be built in:

  • Albert Dyck Park (2022)
  • Swensson Park (2023)
  • Clearbrook Park (2024)
  • Jubilee Park (2025)

City staff said in a report to council that any grant money wouldn’t just be pocketed. The report says: “If successful with this grant application, the City would be able to advance these washrooms and shelter projects significantly and be able to address the next sites or other amenities identified in through the Park Prioritization Framework.”

Coun. Kelly Chahal said the facilities will make the city’s parks more welcoming for seniors.

“Nobody expected to see something like COVID happen and a lot of our seniors are at home, they’re not in senior homes, but they’re at family homes they often go to the parks to get out and work on their physical health and mental health and not having amenities for them precludes them from having those opportunities,” she said.

Coun. Les Barkman asked why each set of toilets would cost $600,000 to build.

Mary Morrison-Clark, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said that’s what most park washrooms take to build these days – and that construction is much different from one’s own household washroom. She said consultation, design, disposal of material, finishing, heating and insulation, and permits all go into the cost.

“You can’t look at this like a washroom in your house,” Mayor Henry Braun said. “The material that we use, we have to build it so it’s almost vandal-proof, so there’s a much-higher cost to do that.”

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