COQUITLAM, B.C., July 29, 2021 – Menstrual products are now available for free in City women’s and universal washrooms across Coquitlam.
To reduce barriers to recreation and promote gender equity, the City recently installed dispensers with free individually-wrapped tampons and pads in women’s and universal washrooms following a successful pilot project at five sites last year. In total, 75 women’s and universal washrooms at 10 civic buildings and 20 outdoor pools and parks in Coquitlam now have free menstrual product dispensers.
The initiative adds to the suite of City programs that improve access to recreation, including financial assistance and supports for people with disabilities.
Positive Feedback from Community
Coquitlam launched the project after students from Dr. Charles Best Secondary made a presentation to City Council in 2019.
During a four-month pilot project that ended in spring 2020, staff regularly replenished 21 wall-mounted, push-button dispensers in two parks and three facilities while tracking product use and dispenser condition. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – more than 90 per cent supported the concept, and almost all users surveyed found the dispensers easy to use and find, and the products sufficient.
The survey also revealed the stigma felt by people who have periods: two-thirds said they wouldn’t ask for menstrual products at a front desk due to embarrassment, shyness or inconvenience.
Around the world, improving access to menstrual products is widely viewed as a key step in removing gender barriers caused by financial circumstances or the stigma felt by girls, women and non-binary or transgendered people who menstruate.
In terms of recreation, appropriate menstrual products are critical to ensuring people who have periods can participate in all sports and activities.
Ensuring the Project’s Success
While some minor vandalism took place during the pilot, the impact of this was relatively small, equaling about two per cent of the products used. The City will continue to monitor issues of vandalism while educating the community, including posting signs on the dispensers urging people to consider others and take only what they need.
The one-time cost for this year’s dispenser installations was $35,000, funded in the 2021 budget. The products are estimated to cost about $25,000 per year, with maintenance and replacements covered within existing budgets.
City of Coquitlam