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Dozens of Coquitlam washrooms now dispense free menstrual products

A city pilot project saw positive feedback in giving those who menstruate proper access to items they need; installed at a one-time cost of $35,000.
Menstrual products. | Shutterstock

Free menstrual products can now be accessed at 75 washrooms across Coquitlam — both women's and universal.

A one-time $35,000 installment, funded through the 2021 budget, has allowed the city to install dispensers at 10 civic facilities and 20 outdoor pools and parks in an effort to reduce barriers and encourage gender equity.

Tampons and pads are individually wrapped for efficiency, the city's facilities department explains, noting it'll be a $25,000 price tag each year for the products, maintenance and any replacements necessary.

"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," a statement reads.

"In terms of recreation, appropriate menstrual products are critical to ensuring people who have periods can participate in all sports and activities."

In 2019, students from Dr. Charles Best Secondary asked to city council to consider free menstrual products at public places.

The installations as of today (July 31) are a result of a following pilot project that mounted 21 dispensers on bathrooms walls at two parks and three buildings across Coquitlam for four months ending in spring 2020.

The city explains the push-button machines were tracked and maintained by staff.

And a follow-up survey showed more than 90 per cent in support of the dispensers to stay.

"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," the release goes on to say, while also noting there was some minor vandalism.

"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 city says the initiative adds to its programs aimed to improve access to recreation, including financial supports for people with disabilities.

Port Coquitlam installed three free menstrual product dispensers in late June at Hyde Creek Recreation Centre (one) and PoCo Community Centre (two).

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