Left: Garbage and mess left in one of Penticton’s public washrooms. Right: A burn mark left above the toilet paper holder in one of Penticton’s public washrooms, which staff suspect is the result from someone “cooking drugs.” (Photo from City of Penticton)

Drug use/vandalism issues reduces Penticton public washroom availability

Residents of Penticton will see an adjustment to which public washrooms are open and for how long

Residents will have less access to public washrooms in Penticton as city staff crack down on vandalism and drug use inside the facilities.

Council heard during the meeting on June 4 from the city’s director of recreation and culture Bregje Kozak about the state of the city’s public washrooms located within the 200 block of Main Street and certain city parks. She explained city staff have been struggling with addressing the near constant vandalism that seems to plague these buildings.

“Since we opened our washrooms in May, we have been almost daily in the facilities cleaning up, repainting to cover up graffiti, replacing hinges, fixing doors and that kind of thing,” said Kozak. “We spent about eight hours a week in man-power just for facilities staff to deal with that, that does not include bylaw time or any time by our cleaning contractors.”

Kozak submitted a report to council which stated the city spent $100,000 in security and vandalism to the city’s public washrooms in 2018. In just the two months these washrooms have been opened this year, the city has spent $7,000 and 65 staff hours (equal to one day per week) dealing with repairs.

As a result, council voted to adjust the hours certain public washrooms will be available. Going forward, the 200 block public washrooms will be closed except for market days on Saturday and special events.

READ MORE: Okanagan bar warns of dropped calls in the bathroom

In addition, rather than closing the public washrooms at dusk or 10 p.m., the hours will be reduced to close at approximately 9 p.m., subject to park bookings or special events.

“The 200 block public washroom is targeted quite frequently. What we either deal with is they’re locked and people are trying to get into them. Once we get inside (we find graffiti) and we can clean it up and repaint it, then the next day it will be back,” said Kozak. “We also see drug paraphernalia and other things.”

Furthermore, the unisex and single stall washrooms in Lakawanna Park, Gyro Park, Okanagan Lake Park and Rotary Park will be closed for the summer. The regular male and female washrooms will remain open at those locations.

“The single stall washrooms are really problematic for us. We installed brand new partitions in the stalls at Okanagan Lake Park because they were badly damaged last year, and they are already bent,” said Kozak. “We’ve even seen a burn mark on the wall (in one washroom), which we believe is from someone cooking their drugs on top of the toilet paper holder.”

Members on city council expressed their disappointment that the schedule changes are necessary, noting that it impacts the general public and businesses when the public washrooms are not available.

Kozak said that in the past, the city has tried installing portable washrooms which suffer just as much vandalism. City staff will be posting signage of the adjusted hours, and this is subject to change based on the outcomes.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Princeton RCMP sergeant kills cougar threatening residential neighborhood

An RCMP officer shot and killed a cougar, close to a residential… Continue reading

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Osoyoos Desert Centre prepares for reopening

The 67-acre nature interpretive facility opens June 6

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

Penticton Vees acquire forward Luc Wilson in trade with Cowichan Valley

Departing is 20-year-old Penticton native Jack Barnes

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Drugs, machete found in truck with stolen plate driven by Salmon Arm man

Chase RCMP arrest driver and have vehicle towed

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Top cop calls video of Kelowna Mountie striking suspect ‘concerning’

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

HERGOTT: Can you get money back if COVID-19 disrupts plans?

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Most Read