Skip to content

Changing universal changeroom design at rec complex not recommended

The project team leading consultation on the city's new rec complex says any major changes now would add to the overall cost of the $108 million facility
A rendering of the 10-lane 25-metre pool and leisure pool at the new rec complex.

A few concerns expressed during public meetings about the inclusive washroom and changeroom design for the city's new recreation complex have not changed a recommendation from the team overseeing the project that council stick to the plan.

Reworking the design at this stage carries the risk of cost and schedule impacts, reads an update headed to council next week. 

The project team is recommending and seeking direction from council to proceed with the facility's universal changerooms and washrooms as proposed, despite hearing from some residents who are concerned about being near other genders in a space that demands privacy.

Those concerns have led the team to modify the washroom design to provide direct access to a complete washroom area, independent of the overall public washroom space, but other than that, the recommendation to keep gender neutral spaces remains.

Schematic designs for the rec complex released last fall show the universal changerooms with multiple stalls for changing, surrounded by individual and accessible washrooms, all with full length-doors for privacy.

MJMA Architecture & Design schematic of the Cambridge Recreation Complex.

The project team held four public meetings on the project since council approved the schematic design in September, one in-person and three virtual.

During those meetings, some concerns about the gender neutral design cropped up, but staff said once the changerooms and washrooms were explained to residents who had reservations about the idea, "they generally found satisfaction in the assurance that these configurations promoted safety and accessibility."

"One participant strongly emphasized the importance of maintaining separate gender specific areas for changing and restroom facilities, citing personal safety concerns, but in the course of the discussion, it was highlighted that in gender specific spaces, there may be difficulty in reacting quickly to a situation (such as alarming noises) if you have to get appropriately gendered staff to respond."

The summary said two older adults voiced concerns about the safety of shared spaces for young girls.

Staff wrote that a young girl and her mother also in attendance reassured those individuals that universal washrooms foster safety and inclusivity for them and their peers.

Another attendee said they were “very excited" about the facility and its gender neutral washrooms.

"This is very important to us. We hope that this will be a very inclusive space for trans and non-binary folks.” 

The city plans to tender the project in May or June on a schedule that would see construction begin this fall.