One Vernon councillor believes a new downtown washroom to be erected later this summer won’t draw tourists or residents.
Akbal Mund was reacting to a staff recommendation to set up a public washroom in the boulevard of 35th Street between 30th Avenue and Coldstream Avenue.
“Why are we bringing bathrooms into the downtown core?” asked Mund. “The issue was to alleviate the problem of people using businesses and properties as bathrooms and going wherever they want. I looked at the site and I thought, ‘this is the wrong site.’”
Mund said the site won’t serve any tourists, but that people will use that bathroom and “make it a campground.”
“Safeway used to have picnic tables, it became a congregation place for everybody. They removed them, and everybody went,” said Mund. “There’s going to be a bathroom there, there’s benches there, people will just hang out in this area.”
Mund thought the bathroom might be better situated off 25th Avenue near the Upper Room Mission.
The bathroom is under construction and will have the ability to be moved if so required.
Coun. Scott Anderson shared Mund’s concerns and asked staff if there had been complaints in that immediate area of people clustering and of public defecation.
“In my consultation with people who own buildings and properties, they are struggling with defecation, with people using stoops, back yards and back steps, and they’ve raised a lot of concerns,” said Laurie Cordell, city manager of long-range planning and sustainability.”
Cordell said the location of the washroom was not staff’s only concern.
“We didn’t want it out of the way, out of sight, where people would be afraid to go looking for it,” she said. “We wanted it in a location where it’s busy, with lots of people coming and going. Any time I’ve been down there, there are lots of people moving around.”
Coun. Kelly Fehr thinks the location for the bathroom is a good one.
“It’s well lit, a safe place to use the facilities and not only for those who don’t have bathrooms but for when there are events downtown,” he said. “I think, all in all, it’s a good choice, a good location.”
Council voted 5-1 in favour of erecting the bathroom at the staff-suggested location (Mund was opposed, Mayor Victor Cumming was absent from the meeting), and also directed administration to report back on any additional costs related to lighting improvements, landscaping changes, additional facilities and increased service and monitoring.