Two outdoor toilets are raising a stink before they’re even in use.
The toilets were installed in front of the Visitor Centre and Art Gallery building on Oct. 6 and will be ready for public use by Oct. 24 at the latest, but already some people are not happy that they’re there.
“They’re just totally, totally inappropriate,” said Still Water Books and Art owner Ruth McMonagle, whose business is located near the toilets. “They’re embarrassing, they don’t match the style (of the Visitor Centre and Art Gallery), anybody can see who’s going in and out.”
Campbell River resident Howard Milner wrote a letter to the editor in Wednesday’s Mirror questioning the aesthetic design of the toilets and their location, which is right next to the entry to the Visitor Centre and Art Gallery.
However, not everyone is upset. Art Gallery executive director Jeanette Taylor said the building closed its public washroom about a year and a half ago due to abuse.
“We had a lot of street people using that washroom,” Taylor said adding that it was probably just a few people causing the mess. “But however, whoever those people were, they just did the most appalling gross messes in the washroom.”
Taylor and staff in the building often found used needles in the washroom as well.
She said she is relieved to finally have a washroom to offer to the public again, as she often referred people to the community centre, which is a couple of blocks away.
“We’re happy to have a washroom,” Taylor said. “but it seems that nobody’s happy with how they look and where they are.”
City general manager of parks, recreation and culture Ross Milnthorp said recreation staff are working with the Arts Council and Art Gallery on ideas for aesthetic enhancements and possible public art displays for the washrooms. He also noted the city plans to change the landscaping and exterior of the washrooms, but he said the overall theme has not been finalized yet.
As for the location of the toilets, city facilities and supply management general manager Dave Morris said the toilets needed to be near the Visitor Centre, Spirit Square and the library so they could be easily accessed by the public.
“The approximate location was at the request of the Visitor Information Centre and Art Gallery staff as it provides close service to those attending the building, and Spirit Square,” said Morris. “The precise location was determined by proximity to water and sewer connections.”
Two portable toilets are located around the side of the building and are not as visible from the entry, but Morris said the water and sewer connections would not allow for installation of the new toilets there.
“That location is beyond our water and sewer servicing range,” Morris explained.
According to Morris, the new toilets will cost $90,000 in total, including the proposed aesthetic upgrades. They will be fully serviced with heat, auto-flush toilets, hands-free sinks, and automatic locks to secure them after hours. They will be open from 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily except when special evening events are on at Spirit Square.
The toilets will be cleaned every night by a contracted janitorial firm. A security camera is being installed to monitor and deter vandalism, and the downtown security guard will check them approximately every hour and report any problems to the city.
Problems are a possibility as library manager Timothy Skye has problems with people using the library washrooms right now which are directly across the road.
“We get people who are intoxicated who are on drugs. We can’t control who comes in and uses them,” said Skye.
He said things have been better since security guards started patrolling the downtown area a couple of years ago, but problems do persist.
He is happy that there will now be another washroom option in the area.
“I give kudos to the city for this initiative; it’s something that’s needed downtown,” said Skye.