Deborah Wisniewski said she has had problems with foul-smelling droppings while walking her dog through Tory Hill park in recent months.
But they were not from her canine friend. She said the culprit was humans relieving themselves around the parking lot and trail after the municipality removed the portable toilet in March due to the pandemic.
“Day after day. Toilet paper, feces, garbage,” Wisniewski said, adding she was understanding at first as people adjusted. “But then after a couple of months it was going on more and I couldn’t understand why people would do that.”
She described areas as “littered,” with the stench rising alongside the heat. It was enough to garner a response from the municipality. Wisniewski said she reached out to Highlands East July 6 and they responded quickly to get the toilet back up.
Municipal CAO Shannon Hunter said the toilet was removed with the closure of parks and facilities during the pandemic. But she said with the provincial Stage 2 of reopening, which began June 12, it was time to return it.
“The park was caution taped off,” she said. “With being in phase two of the reopening, placement of the portable bathroom was recommended.”
Some municipalities across the province closed public washrooms at the start of the pandemic, including Minden Hills, but they were never explicitly required to be closed in Ontario’s emergency orders. But municipalities began reopening washrooms as time went on. Others kept public washroom facilities open through most of the pandemic, including Dysart et al and Algonquin Highlands.
Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has advised washroom facilities must support proper hand hygiene with signage, have physical distancing markers and should be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
Wisniewski said she was surprised and thankful for the municipality’s quick response to her complaint.
“You don’t really need people doing that kind of thing. It’s not healthy, not safe, there are children playing in the park,” she said. “You have people walking their dogs, people walking their trail. Why would you want to walk on a trail that stinks?”