The City of Campbell River is hoping a fancy new public toilet designed to discourage vagrancy, withstand and deter vandalism and be easier to maintain and service will be the answer they’ve been looking for in cleaning up the issue of downtown public bathroom facilities.
So much so that they’re spending $200,000 on it.
The city awarded the contract for the new bathroom facility on Monday to Madden Fabrication – the makers of the Portland Loo – for $161,209.78, with the remainder of the $200,000 budget set aside for its installation. The city did receive a bid for a new bathroom facility from another company, RecTec Industries, for only $67,324, but that bid didn’t meet the needs of the city, according to development services manager Kevin Brooks.
“One of the key things in regard to downtown washroom facilities that you’re seeing throughout North America is the ability for sight lines, ensuring the safety of the people using the washroom but also ensuring that if people are inside the washroom and are unconscious, people can see into the washroom,” Brooks said when asked why staff were recommending awarding the contract to the higher bidder. “We contacted RecTec directly to ask if they were able to address some of these issues with their current design and they informed us that no, they were not able to achieve that. With our consultation with the RCMP and protective services, it was very, very key that those issues were addressed if we were going to site and obtain another facility.”
The Portland Loo unit designed in 2008 by the City of Portland, Oregon, who wanted to address the “nightmare issues that had occurred with other city toilets open to the public 24/7,” according to Madden’s website. They took feedback from engineers, parks staff, fire and police departments and more in creating the fabricated metal lavatory with open grate sections, anti-graffiti wall panels, interchangeable and replaceable building components and easy-to-clean coating. Portland now has 15 of the facilities operating around town.
Victoria has five of the facilities in operation – it was the first city to install one outside of Portland – Vancouver has five, Kamloops has two, and Smithers and Nelson each have one, as does Nanaimo.
But don’t expect to see the sleek metal contraption installed in downtown Campbell River anytime soon.
After all, the city hasn’t even decided yet where it will be placed or whether it will replace a current washroom facility or add to the options downtown. Brooks says that is still in the early discussion phase, but it was important to place the order for the facility as soon as possible, as it takes six months from placing the order to receipt of the unit.
“We wanted to get procurement out of the way as soon as possible so we could begin to deal with the location, siting and detailed elements of the pad, servicing, within the time frame construction and shipping is taking place.
“We haven’t contemplated, specifically, the removal of any of the facilities downtown at this time,” Brooks adds.
“That’s a bigger discussion that we need to have in regards to how we want to provide future facilities in the downtown. This facility we see as a standalone facility that will provide additional service at this time, but it is a discussion that needs to happen.”
And for those who may be concerned about the price tag of the unit, Mayor Andy Adams says he expects it will essentially pay for itself in short order.
“Having seen the Porland Loos that are in Nanaimo and in Bastion Square in Victoria and some other locations, had council made the decision five or six years ago to purchase this, we probably could have paid for it just in what we’re spending in repairs and maintenance of the existing facility,” Adams says. “But hindsight is 20/20.”