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Need to go? This app shows where to find 36 Coquitlam public washrooms

The city is the first in B.C. to support 'GoHere' — a program that guides knee-shaking residents to the nearest bathroom, especially those with Crohn's disease.
A washroom locator app now includes 36 places "to go" in Coquitlam, including these stalls at Town Centre Park.

We all go, but finding a spot to do so can be especially difficult for those living with Crohn's or Colitis disease.

In response, Coquitlam is stepping in to help vulnerable residents find the nearest public washroom when the urge suddenly appears and has partnered with a national volunteer organization to make it possible.

Crohn's and Colitis Canada has an app — GoHere: Washroom Locator — that maps out the closest bathroom in a user's vicinity.

It's since added 36 facilities to its database out of Coquitlam, which is the first B.C. municipality to do so, according to a news release.

Washrooms in parks, recreation centres and civic facilities pop up on the free app when a user enters their location, and displays how long it would take to get there by vehicle, bike, transit or on foot.

Coquitlam spokesperson Manisha Dutta believes it's important to reach out to those feeling "othered" or excluded as a result of their condition.

"The experiences of people living with Crohn's or Colitis, or other chronic illnesses, shines a light on this issue," the city's manager for equity, diversity and inclusion added. 

"The GoHere: Washroom Access Program breaks barriers by providing accessible washroom information, which we know is important to those with urgent washroom requirements. The City of Coquitlam is proud to be able to participate in this program and support the diverse needs of both our residents and those who visit our community."

Dutta said accessibility for all is "at the forefront" of Coquitlam's service plan for all civic infrastructure and neighbourhood programs.

According to Crohn's and Colitis Canada, roughly 300,000 people across the country have been diagnosed with either disease, and usually make 20 or more visits to the washroom per day.

Matthew Sebastiani, president of the Vancouver chapter of Crohn's and Colitis Canada, said patients are often turned away from organizations in times of a washroom emergency or are required to buy something before being able to use a washroom.

"Washroom access is a medical necessity for many individuals that live with various medical or chronic conditions, including those with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis," he added.

"The GoHere app assures those living with these conditions the ability to locate washrooms on their route and help them to break free from the anxiety and stress they face when leaving their homes."

GoHere was only available in places like Alberta and southern Ontario before Coquitlam, but it's since expanded to other Metro Vancouver communities and has mapped more than 3,000 public washrooms.

For more information about the app and access to services with Crohn's and Colitis Canada, you can visit its website.