Closing the city’s new downtown public washroom an hour earlier than advertised defeats the purpose of having the facility, according to Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal.
City of Vernon manager of building services Mike Beauregard disagrees.
The newly installed portable toilet based on the Portland Loo, at the intersection of 35th Street and Coldstream Avenue, opened in early October with a city news release stating it would be open for community use from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When she asked what time the bathroom closed, and was told by Beauregard 8 p.m., Nahal questioned the move.
“I thought the purpose was so we didn’t have people defecating on business owners’ properties,” Nahal said. “Doesn’t closing it at 8 p.m. defeat that purpose?”
Beauregard didn’t think so, saying the city is still experimenting about what times will work and what won’t work for the washroom.
“The concern is that individuals will take it over and lock themselves in at night,” Beauregard said. “The hours can be extended. Right now, security is there at opening (7 a.m.) and closing.”
City director of operation services Shirley Koenig said the loo is cleaned two-to-three times daily, but will not be staffed to clean overnight.
“We’re seeing/watching how often it will need to be cleaned and we can adjust our schedule for that,” said Koenig, adding she didn’t think the intention of the facility was to ever leave it open 24-7.
“If that’s what council wishes, we can reconsider.”
Koenig said the facility is a stainless steel building that can be hosed down and doesn’t require the same level of cleaning as the ones over by the downtown bus terminus (3000-block 31st Avenue).
Coun. Scott Anderson, who along with Coun. Brian Quiring sat on the city’s Activate Safety Task Force, said the committee’s recommendation of installing a facility near downtown was to stop people from defecating in doorways.
“I was quite shocked to learn it’s closed at 8 p.m.,” Anderson said. “There’s not a great public demand for shoppers to have somewhere to go. This was recommended specifically for this reason.”
Quiring wondered if the loo hours could correspond to those of city bylaw officers, who are on the job until 11 p.m. to Nov. 15, and then until 10 p.m. through to the spring.
Staff told council if they wish to move toward different hours than what was adopted through the funding provided, they would come back and tell them what the impact on resources would be.
“I think the idea was to clean them and get them closed up at nighttime so they’re ready in the morning,” said Patti Bridal, the city’s director of corporate services. “If you want to add another task and some resource challenges with having them opened later, we’d need to bring that back for you.”