Much ado about a loo: Taking Vernon's new outdoor washroom for a spin | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Much ado about a loo: Taking Vernon's new outdoor washroom for a spin

The new loo in downtown Vernon.
October 13, 2019 - 12:00 PM

Its design was described as state of the art and its construction bombproof, and while Vernon's latest public amenity isn't exactly glamorous if you are caught short when you're downtown, you'll no doubt be very happy it's there.

The washroom, located at the intersection of 30 Ave and 35 Street recently opened, more than a year after the idea was originally pitched to council in the summer of 2018. stopped by to check it out today, Oct. 10 but it didn't er, go, as planned. Much to our surprise, and no shortage of horror — the toilet didn't flush.

The City said this was an isolated incident that would be dealt with.

Built by Vernon-based firm Eagle Industries, the stainless steel washroom is covered in a graffiti-resistant coating and has slats at the top and the bottom which offer privacy but also allow police and bylaw officers (and anyone else who wishes to) to see in if needed.

The washroom was one of several dozen initiatives put forward by the Activate Safety Taskforce in 2018. Downtown business owners and employees had complained they often arrived at work to find urine and feces on their doorsteps.

While it had been recommended that the toilet be open 24 hours a day, the new loo is only operational from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The other City-owned public washroom near the bus station closes at 6 p.m.

The City said in a statement it was closing at 9 p.m. "in order to promote the proper intended use of the facility."

Based on the design of the Portland Loo, the washroom has no sink or mirror, and instead contains hand sanitizer, although a tap has been fitted to the outside of the washroom.

The City had originally discussed spending $275,000 on two Portland Loos from the Oregon firm who had a lengthy waiting list for their toilets.

The City changed course and looked closer to home found and found Eagle Industries who designed and produced the washrooms. According to the City, they're still crunching the numbers and haven't got a total as yet, but in a statement said it "came in well under budget."

"Not only is this a homegrown product that showcases the forward-thinking nature of our community," Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming said in a media release. "But it also provides a much-needed service for all residents and visitors in our city’s downtown core."

The location of the washroom was also debated at council in July with Vernon councillor Akbal Mund saying the downtown location was not a good fit.

It may have taken over a year since it was first discussed for the washroom to come into fruition, but the issue of public washrooms isn't always as straight forward as imagined.

Inside the new loo.
Inside the new loo.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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