Vancouver mom maps currency exchange tables in the city

Michelle Cyca is on a mission to stop parents from changing diapers on the bathroom floor

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Michelle Cyca, a Vancouver mom, was out to lunch with her six-month-old son Cassidy when he needed a diaper change. But the deli they were at didn’t have a changing table, and she ended up changing her baby on the dirty bathroom floor.

“I think every parent has done that at least once,” said Cyca, who has heard many heartbreaking stories from parents who have had to change their babies’ diapers in conditions that were neither safe nor sanitary.

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She also went through the experience with her daughter, who is now four years old. This time she decided to do something about it.

On New Year’s Day, Cyca launched a baby-changing table mapping project that will show which Metro restaurants, cafes and businesses have or lack changing tables — information that’s surprisingly hard to come by, she said.

She is inviting people to submit information about the availability of exchange tables at locations they know.

As of Thursday, about 85 places are on the list Vancouver exchange tables mapprimarily in Vancouver, but includes other municipalities such as Richmond, North Vancouver and Langley.

Taking babies from one place to another can already be an ordeal for parents and not having a place to change their diapers makes it more difficult, especially in winter when they can’t change diapers on a picnic blanket or in the trunk of a car, Cica said.

“When you’re a parent, it’s important to get out of your house because, in some cases, having a small baby can be very lonely and isolating.”

About 11 days later, Cyca got some ideas.

Many places that appear child-friendly and offer high chairs and children’s menus, for example, do not have changing tables. “It feels like an oversight. “They don’t think of it as a necessity.”

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Thanks to a recent presentation, he discovered that some breweries in Vancouver are surprisingly parent-friendly places. Japanese restaurants, in general, also seem to have changing tables set up in the bathrooms, as do local chains like Earls and Tap and Barrel. And community centers and libraries are safe bets.

However, wherever there are changing tables, they will generally be in the women’s bathrooms, excluding the men who are in charge of changing diapers.

After hearing from several parents on the topic, Cyca added a field for people to specify whether a changing table is located in the women’s bathroom or in a gender-neutral bathroom or in a place accessible to men.

Currently, the map uses three colors: red for places without exchange tables; yellow for places with changing tables located in women’s bathrooms; and green for changing tables accessible to both sexes.

“I would like to add a fourth color where the changing tables are only in the men’s bathrooms, but I haven’t heard that scenario yet,” Cyca said wryly.

In addition to saving parents from having to change diapers on the floor, Cyca hopes the project will also encourage people to think about making public spaces more inclusive for parents and babies.

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“It often seems like we’re a society that’s not very welcoming to babies,” she said. “But babies are people and members of society, and it would be good if their needs were met.”

There are no regulations requiring businesses to have changing tables in bathrooms. And Cyca sympathizes with businesses, many of which may face financial or space constraints. But if business owners are building a new space, renovating or have spacious bathrooms, a changing table would be a welcome addition, he said.

“It’s a small way for companies to extend inclusion to parents and children.”

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