City plunges ahead with washrooms

Vernon dips into reserves for relocatable washroom facility for Cenotaph Park

Providing public toilets has wiped away $75,000.

Most of Vernon council voted Monday to dip into reserves to purchase a relocatable washroom facility for Cenotaph Park on 31st Avenue.

“It’s actually ridiculous we don’t have public washrooms,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“It’s been council after council deferring making a decision on this.”

Cunningham says the trailer-like facility will benefit people who are shopping downtown, using transit and those residents attending special events at the nearby Spirit Square.

On top of the $75,000 for the facility, council has agreed to budget up to $72,000 in 2013 for maintenance but that cost will depending on when the facility is actually open.

The issue of public washrooms arose after conversion of the old library into city offices began. The washrooms in that building became unavailable to the public especially during events like the Civic Sounds concerts.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe wanted to maintain those facilities.

“It’s something that’s going to keep coming up,” she said of events at the civic complex.

Staff had recommended that council table a decision on public washrooms until it’s known if the Vernon Public Art Gallery will build on property on 31st Avenue. There is the possibility that public washrooms could be incorporated into the design.

The hours of operation haven’t been determined for the Cenotaph Park washroom but there is a reluctance to have it available 24 hours a day because of the security and maintenance costs required.

“Bar patrons aren’t going to wait,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

“They’re going to go where they’re drinking. They won’t walk two blocks.”

The trailer will now be ordered but if it doesn’t arrive until winter, it may not be installed until the spring.