Function over beauty for these pop-up Okanagan public loos | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Function over beauty for these pop-up Okanagan public loos

This is a rendering of a new pop up toilet planned for downtown Kelowna.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
January 30, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Two Okanagan cities chose to design and build their own pop-up loos rather than go to the tried and true industry leading Portland Loo or the more recent Winnipeg Pop Up Public Toilet.

There are some good cost and utilitarian reasons for doing that but beauty is taking a back seat in the process.

“This is very much a made in Kelowna innovation and it’s going to be quite a bit better and more comfortable in terms of being able to use those amenities,” Lance Kayfish, the City’s risk manager,told “The Winnipeg pop up toilet was basically a 10-foot space with a kiosk as well as two port-a-potties sort of placed inside the other space available. If you’re using that sort of concept it doesn’t account for accessibility and those sorts of things.”

This is the Winnipeg Pop-Up Public Toilet.
This is the Winnipeg Pop-Up Public Toilet.
Image Credit:

The Winnipeg project was launched in 2018 by converting a shipping container into a kiosk with two toilets. It moved around the city to different locations each month that summer then returned in 2019 to a set location.

That project cost $100,000 which included $37,000 in capital costs and $38,000 for the “social enterprise” component – the kiosk where products were sold.

It was painted bright red with lettering rising high above so it’s a striking facility.

This is the Portland Loo.
This is the Portland Loo.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

The Portland Loo was designed by a former City of Portland commissioner with the first one opening in 2008. They’re sold around the world with the City getting a share but they cost about $125,000 each.

Its oval shape lends it a more soothing look than what’s being produced in the Okanagan.

Vernon had considered buying two of the Portland loos and had a budget for $275,000 but given long wait lists for delivery, contracted a Vernon company to design one. That opened last fall and another is expected to follow.

The Vernon pop-up loo.
The Vernon pop-up loo.

Kayfish admits that the Kelowna product – designed and built locally – is not a work of art, although it will be installed near Queensway bus shelter that did win a number of design awards.

The Queensway bus shelter won a number of design awards but Kelowna's new pop-up loo won't have this sweeping roof when it's installed in behind it.
The Queensway bus shelter won a number of design awards but Kelowna's new pop-up loo won't have this sweeping roof when it's installed in behind it.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

“The intent was always that it would be steel box construction,” Kayfish said. “What we’ve done as a design team, by using colours and some treatments in terms of having some wood placed on it and some other features, designed something that will look quite appealing but, at the end of the day, it will still be a shipping container style construction.”

The team had looked at putting a wavy room on it to emulate the bus shelter but it was too expensive, Kayfish said. The colours and wood features will match the bus shelter.

At 20-feet long, it will also be wheelchair accessible and have sinks inside each washroom. The other styles of pop-up loos have water outside.

The washroom will be placed behind the Queensway bus shelter, between the walkway to the Memorial Parkade and the Bennett Clock. There will be a separate 10-foot by eight-foot kiosk installed closer to the street.

The plan is to have the facility running by April for a three-month trial period with formerly homeless workers to maintain it, keep an eye out to make sure it’s not used inappropriately and provide information for downtown visitors.

The kiosk will be used for some yet to be determined social enterprise project that could be selling some products, bike or scooter rentals or provide tourist information. The idea is to test it this spring and, if it’s decided to run it past the test period, there could be a call for proposals from private companies that could subsidize the cost of the washroom.

As for cost, the original budget was $206,000. About $82,000 was for the actual structures while operations, maintenance and servicing will come in at about $83,000.

The Kelowna project was approved by Kelowna city council last summer with the expectation that the pilot project would start in the fall. A development permit application was filed at Kelowna City Hall last week.

 — This story was corrected at 8:34 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The date the Portland Loo opened has been changed to 2008 as the date was incorrect in the cited article.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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