Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Ensuring equitable access to baby changing tables in Soldotna city facilities was the purpose of an ordinance unanimously approved by the Soldotna City Council last week.

The ordinance was introduced by council member Jordan Chilson, who said during an April 10 meeting that the issue of inequitable access to changing tables is one that he wouldn’t have known about if he hadn’t experienced it.

“I’m a relatively new parent,” he said. “It’s been an incredible journey so far, but it’s definitely been a learning process for me. One of the things that I have learned is that changing table accessibility is not always where you need it to be if you’re a new dad.”

Chilson said that in city buildings and facilities, he’s encountered a lack of changing tables in some bathrooms. That means, he said, that mothers are left with the undue burden of handling that responsibility, or others are left trying to change diapers on the floor of a bathroom stall.

“It’s not ideal,” he said.

The solve brought forward in the ordinance would require all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms. The ordinance also says that those tables need to be installed in locations and at heights that are accessible to people with disabilities — including wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

Installation of changing tables “will be given priority” in “high-traffic facilities,” which the ordinance describes as including parks, the Soldotna Public Library, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, and the soon-to-be-constructed field house.

The ordinance and archived video of the city council meeting can be found at soldotna.org.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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