Downtown washroom issue in Penticton becoming urgent

City engineer Ian Chapman said facilities staff are finding themselves cleaning up, on an almost daily basis, various public washrooms.

The problem of not having enough public washrooms in downtown Penticton is becoming urgent.

City engineer Ian Chapman said facilities staff are finding themselves cleaning up, on an almost daily basis, the mess resulting from the previous night’s use of various facilities around the city as public washrooms.

“It is quite a disgusting mess that they have to clean up. We are proposing to install some temporary washrooms, basically a standard rental porta-potty, that will be there for the remainder of this summer,” he said.

“The problem at the moment appears to be that there are no washroom facilities available anywhere in the city after dusk. All the public washrooms that we own and operate are closed at dusk. If we have these available the problem of the mess that is created should disappear.”

Coun. Helena Konanz questioned why lack of washrooms hasn’t been an issue in previous years, asking what has changed so drastically that the change needed to be made in the middle of summer.

“It is quite clear from our experience this year, and it is a problem that has been going on for several months now. It is a very real issue, that really hasn’t arisen in previous years. I cannot explain it, I just know the issue needs addressing,” said Chapman.

Chapman estimates the cost of cleaning up is close to $12,000 a year, while the temporary washrooms would be in the $9,000 a year range. He asked council to put the porta-potty plan in place until at least the end of September.

“We would monitor the situation. If we found it needs to carry on a little further, then we could do that,” said Chapman.

This isn’t the first time the issue of public washrooms has come before council. In early June, responding to a recommendation from the Downtown Revitalization Committee, council discussed the installation of a set of public washrooms, ranging from high-tech self-cleaning models to simple models a few steps above a porta-potty.

However, council didn’t support any of the options offered, and the toilet issue was referred to staff for more research.