Editorial: Soap stars

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It’s a miracle.”

An ecstatic Cherie Geauvreau of the Wagon Wheel Housing Society kept repeating those words while sharing the latest news of efforts to return public laundromat and shower services to Salt Spring Island. 

It does seem somewhat miraculous that a complex problem like creating a service that required central space at a realistic price, access to water and substantial start-up funds could be solved on our island. That is especially so because too often the needs of the less fortunate fall to the bottom of priority lists and if no easy fix to a problem is found they can end up being forgotten.

A place for people who cannot afford to own a washing machine or do not have one in their rented space is a basic amenity of a civilized society. Ditto for a place to shower or bathe. Lack of cleanliness is a public health issue that has been painfully obvious on Salt Spring in recent years.

While exact numbers are not known, the Wagon Wheel Housing Society at one point estimated more than 200 individuals or families were in need of laundromat services. Going off-island to do laundry, paying a private service, washing clothes in bathtubs and buckets, or throwing away clothes and buying second-hand replacements instead of washing them are some ways that islanders have coped with the lack of service. Limited access to laundry and shower facilities has at least been available for a few people at Salt Spring Community Services.

Kudos should be showered on all individuals and organizations that stepped up to ensure this essential project can go ahead, and especially the Wagon Wheel Housing Society, which persisted despite the roadblocks.

But island-wide cleanliness is not yet assured. At least $100,000 is still needed to get the doors of the laundromat open and the washing machines humming. Many individuals have already contributed to the cause, but more funds are needed, and the sooner they are in hand the sooner the facility will be open.

Community Services has agreed to be a project partner and provide charitable tax receipts for donations made to laundromat/shower coffers. The Ruwadzano Marimba Band has offered to donate proceeds of its annual dance set for Lions Hall this Friday, March 6. An art auction and silent auction is also part of the evening. Donation tins are set out in several public places and a GoFundMe page is in operation.

In order to assure dignity and cleanliness for all, this is a project that deserves everyone’s support.

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