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‘Everyone depends on it’: Winnipeg public washroom, resource centre sees high demand after 2 years

A downtown public washroom and resource centre is on the verge of its second anniversary serving the community near the intersection of Main Street and Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg.

Amoowigamig, which opened its doors in May 2022, provides a safe, respectful amenity for community members — some of whom are among the city’s most vulnerable — and sees a whopping 5,000 visitors each month.

Jacob Kaufman, Amoowigamig team leader, told Global Winnipeg the idea for the facility was sparked when he returned to Winnipeg after time away from the city and noticed that there were no longer public washrooms downtown.

“I noticed there was no public washrooms, so me and a few other people pushed to have Amoowigamig open,” he said.

“Everyone down here depends on it…. This bathroom is not exclusively for the unsheltered or people (who live) down here.

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“We have families coming in with kids, we have people driving up in fancy cars that have to go, people waiting for the bus — it’s for the entire city of Winnipeg. It’s been an incredible upgrade — something needed to show everyone dignity and respect.”

Crucially, Kaufman said, it’s not only a washroom but a resource centre.

“It’s a place for safety, a place for the community to come by and get harm reduction supplies, (resources for) housing, detox, whatever they need.

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“Whatever we can help with, we help with, because they’re our family.”

Click to play video: 'Community members talk about the importance of Winnipeg’s Amoowigamig facility'

Community members talk about the importance of Winnipeg’s Amoowigamig facility

Billy Moore, a community member who says he visits the facility at least once a day, told Global Winnipeg it’s been a welcome addition to the area.

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“The staff here are very helpful. They’re always willing to give a helping hand if you need a little bit of help here, and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

“(They’re) very, very good and very friendly, which is great for people here.”

Moore said he’s looking forward to a community celebration later this month in recognition of two years of the facility.

“Last year, when they had the first anniversary, it was fantastic here. I can’t wait for the second anniversary to start.”

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Winnipeg Coun. Sherri Rollins says it’s hard to believe just how successful Amoowigamig has been over its two years in operation, and credited the city’s partnership with community organization Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata for much of that success.

“We’ve expanded services here, we’ve continued to try to keep the hours open. There’s been a really great partnership that has continued … with Ma Mawi,” Rollins said.

“We just keep going and serving the folks around here, who just need a place to go.”

Rollins said the city is working on its zoning bylaws to ensure Amoowigamig and potential similar facilities in future will be permitted.

“We know that we could use one on Memorial (Boulevard), which I’m hoping the provincial government really looks at that because there was a washroom there. And we know we need one in Central Park. The demand is up.

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“When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. As a city councillor, one of the things I am focused on day to day is places to go — whether it’s in our parks and rec facilities, which we’ve been investing in as a city … or whether it’s places that bridge that municipal service — toilets — and some social services.”

Click to play video: '‘We know there’s a demand’: Coun. Sherri Rollins on Ammowigamig'

‘We know there’s a demand’: Coun. Sherri Rollins on Ammowigamig

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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