EDITORIAL- More public restrooms needed


Last Saturday the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs launched the Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project and the Artscape Mural Programme in Flower Alley. The aim of those initiatives are to address some of the challenges that impact negatively on the landscape and environment of our UNESCO World Heritage City, and hopefully help to change the attitudes and behaviours of our people as it relates to the sanitation of the city.
Certainly these are initiatives that we can appreciate and support, as Historic Bridgetown is long overdue for some tender loving care. As we understand it, the Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project is intended to provide a clean, vibrant, safe and welcoming environment for all residents, businesses and visitors to our capital city; address and mitigate the issues negatively impacting on the aesthetics and commerce of the City; create a sustainable programme of art and culture throughout the year; install art throughout the city space; provide employment for artists and the youth; sensitise all about the need to keep the city clean; and to promote the heritage of the UNESCO site to locals and visitors. It is therefore no surprise that as part of that effort, much focus is being placed on putting a stop to public urination and littering in the city, and this is to be commended.
We were indeed pleased to hear that the Ministry of Health is looking to crack down on those engaging in the act of public urination by taking the culprits before the law courts, where they could face, if found guilty, a prison sentence of 12 months or a fine of $5000. This should no doubt make persons think twice about using the alleys of our city when nature calls. In that vein, the Ministry of Culture must be commended for starting the Artscape Mural Programme in Flower Alley, which is one of the primary areas persons use as a public bathroom. It is hoped that the mural being painted on the side of the Diamonds International building on Lower Broad Street, will be the first of many steps taken to refresh that alley, and many others, and change how persons perceive them.
But even as we commend these efforts, it would be very remiss of us not to mention the need for more public bathrooms in the city. Yes several establishments in Bridgetown do have bathrooms, but those are essentially for their paying customers. So if we are asking them to allow everyone to utilise their restrooms, it would be expected that there would be a cost associated with it. We understand that there are a few public restrooms in the City – Independence Square and the various bus terminals – but we feel they are not enough.
If the intention is to rebrand Historic Bridgetown as an “artsy and cultural city” as Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley said, with the mural in Flower Alley being the first of several expected to be painted in the city leading up to CARIFESTA, which is to be held in Barbados in 2017; if the intention is to possibly introduce café-type settings in several alleys as can be seen in other parts of the world; and to encourage more people to venture into the city to shop, enjoy the art and even the music that will be provided by strolling minstrels, four of whom have already been licensed, then as of necessity adequate bathroom facilities must be the order of the day. If not, we run the risk of persons continuing to use the same alleys we want to encourage locals and visitors alike to visit and admire, to relieve their bladders and even bowels.
In addition to putting those public restrooms in place, there should also be adequate, noticeable signage erected to alert persons to their location, and proximity in relation to where they may be in the city. It would be the job of those in charge of the Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project and of promoting Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, to not only erect signs showing the names of streets and history of the areas, but just as malls have directories showing patrons where stores are located, we could have similar directories setup showing where landmarks, bus terminals, taxi stand, stores, restaurants and restrooms and the like are.

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