Two new public washrooms are now in place at 13633 Grosvenor Road and on the grounds of Surrey Memorial Hospital at 94A and King George Boulevard.

The Portland Loos are located in centralized and accessible locations to provide safe and dignified access to toilets for community members who are experiencing homelessness and have limited access to public washrooms.

The Portland Loo is a low-barrier toilet facility with features including: running water, electricity, heat and direct plumbing to the sewer system. Metal grating at floor level lets a person see if anyone is inside without compromising privacy. Stainless steel wall panels make for easy cleaning. A handwashing station is located outside the washroom along with a trash receptacle. The door automatically unlocks after 15 minutes – a safety measure designed to alert passersby to occupants who might be in medical distress.

The Portland Loo at Surrey Memorial Hospital also includes a warning system to help prevent toxic drug poisonings. A motion-activated Brave Sensor sends an alert when there is little or no movement from a person for a certain period of time, triggering a washroom check by security personnel trained in Naloxone use. Emergency Department staff will assist, if required. “Innovative solutions like the Brave Sensor being added to new public restroom facilities are going to go a long way to save lives in Surrey,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We need more innovative tools like this one to continue to turn the tide of the toxic drug crisis.”

The two new loos cost $432,000 to purchase and will be maintained by the City of Surrey and Fraser Health. The City of Surrey and Fraser Health worked together to bring these additional washrooms to the community as part of our collaborative efforts to improve services for marginalized people and address the impacts of homelessness.

“We know that some of our vulnerable residents, including those who are unhoused, have difficulty accessing washrooms because they’re often reserved for paying customers only,” says Sherry Baidwan, executive director, Toxic Drug Response and Priority Populations. “The additional safety measures in the loo further align with our efforts to minimize the risk of toxic drug poisonings in our community.”

“This City of Surrey and Fraser Health initiative will provide basic hygienic and health needs for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Mayor Brenda Locke. “These facilities will provide much-needed washroom facilities in City Centre and are the latest additions of accessible supportive services for those experiencing homelessness.”

The Portland Loo was developed in Portland more than a decade ago in response to rising homelessness and a lack of washroom facilities. Civic officials felt public washrooms open 24-hours a day would fill a void, alleviate disturbances at local businesses and help to keep unsightly waste under control.

“Publicly accessible washrooms open 24/7 are a basic health need that go a long way in serving people in our community,” says Martha Cloutier, Fraser Health executive director, Surrey Memorial Hospital. “It is through our ongoing partnership with the City of Surrey that we are able to target services to specific communities while providing facilities for everyone to use.”

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