On a road trip? Here’s where you can go to the bathroom

OTTAWA — The hot weather combined with spending months at home has everyone keen to get outside, whether it’s a road trip or a day trip around our region.

But where do you go to the bathroom when so many places are closed?

The limited options gave web creator Laura Paquet an idea: a list to know before you go, for your next staycation or summer road trip.

“Something people clearly need information, and I started digging around, and it wasn’t easy information to find; so, I thought ok – I’ll make a list,” says Paquet.

She has a website on which she writes about places to explore in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

“Since the COVID crisis started, I’ve been trying to come up with things people can safely do, once we were allowed to actually leave our homes.”

But leaving the house for a day trip has its own challenges during the pandemic.

“Everyone has been saying, oh that’s great; but, I’d love to go to – you know, Almonte, or Brockville, or Kemptville, but I need to know: is there a bathroom.”

She says making the list wasn’t easy.

“It was tricky, actually – I basically just dug around every park website, city website, e-mailed a lot of people. The list is still evolving too.”

“This is terrific; people need this information,” says Bessa Whitmore; with the Ottawa-based GottaGo! Campaign, which advocates for safe, free, clean and environmentally responsible public toilets.

Whitmore says that since COVID hit, the network of open bathrooms has been limited.

“Especially with COVID and everything, coffee-shops, libraries… places where people could go otherwise are all closed now.”

Paquet’s list includes the places that are open, including the OnRoute travel plazas along the 401.

She hopes the list will encourage people to explore, and has already gotten good feedback.

“I just posted it a few days ago. People have said ‘now I feel more comfortable in going out.’”