Members of Acorn Canada carried a cardboard cutout of a portable toilet into the Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby on Wednesday morning, protesting a lack of public washrooms in the building.
Acorn Canada is an advocacy group for low- and moderate-income families.
"It was an amazing response (when) we brought it up to the office," said organizer Veronica Coreas. "The Port-A-Potty was our tool, it spoke for itself."
There were about a dozen members on hand, Coreas said. She added the employees were a little unhappy to see them.
"We're all satisfied, we delivered our message," she said. "We got to deliver our letter."
The police were called in once the protesters entered the office.
The protesters were given a phone number in Victoria to call about the issue, she added.
It is an important issue because people are often at the office for prolonged periods of time, Coreas said.
"As a mother of four who has had to go through long disputes with ex landlords at the Residential Tenancy Branch, I was shocked when I realized that they had removed the washroom from the office," she said in a press release. "It is hard enough for anyone to have to leave the line at the (branch), but to have to do this with children? It's crazy."
She added it was even worse for people with medical conditions.
"There's no access to a natural need," Coreas said in a phone interview after the protest.
She became aware of the issue last October, she said.
Coreas hopes to start a chapter of Acorn in Burnaby soon, saying there has been some interest.
"There's more than one issue to resolve in Burnaby," she said.
"Within our neigh-bourhood(s), there's a lot to do."
There may be another stand-up action on this particular issue, she added.
The building owner is the one who chose to end public access to the washrooms, not the branch staff, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Housing.
The spokesperson asked that his name not be used in the article.
As the space is only leased by the branch, not owned by the provincial government, staff cannot provide access, he added, saying that signs are posted indicating there isn't a public washroom available, so people know to go elsewhere.