Laundry group makes voice heard

Facility still not available after three and a half years

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The Wagon Wheel Housing Society made a push to raise funds and awareness for their goal of building a laundromat on Salt Spring by doing laundry using a dual-bucket method in Centennial Park last Wednesday morning.

Officially formed in February 2016 to work on issues of homelessness, poverty, hunger and isolation, the society has been advocating to build a laundromat and shower facility for people without reliable access to water on Salt Spring since Mrs. Clean Laundromat closed its doors. Through a fundraising push, they have raised around $4,300 for the project to date.

“This is what people have to do to do their laundry,” said Wagon Wheel coordinator Cherie Geauvreau. “It’s seniors, people whose wells run dry in the summer on the north end. Where are they supposed to shower? It’s a rural community. People miss the point. The point is that this is unnecessary suffering when we could do better.”

Using buckets and plungers to do laundry was first demonstrated on the island by Laundreaction, a group of islanders who worked to promote the need for a laundromat on the island. They demonstrated the method during a series of awareness-raising events in August 2018.

Michael and Helga Bagnell were publicly doing their laundry in the park last week. A laundromat is especially needed for seniors, they explained, because the manual labour involved in the laundry process can be taxing.

The Wagon Wheel society has been looking into alternatives, which include mobile units, and off-grid options. Mobile laundry trailers carry high costs, and still require a place to park.

We’re not going to give up,” Geauvreau added. “The people who miss the point have washers and dryers, and showers, and bathtubs and hot tubs and pools.”

People without facilities have the option of doing laundry on food bank pick-up days at the Salt Spring Island Community Services building, or taking clothes to the Salt Spring Linen and Dry Cleaners building. Most often, people are left taking their laundry off-island to laundromats in Sidney, Victoria or Crofton.

For more on this story, see the July 31, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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