North Okanagan’s homeless-populated park to get porta potties, despite concerns

Vernon city council votes to install 2 portable units for the summer months

A delay in ordering the kits to build two public washrooms in the downtown core resulted in Vernon council unanimously approving two porta potties be placed for the summer, which went against a staff recommendation.

The portable bathrooms will be installed at Linear Park off 25th Avenue.

The monthly cost of the temporary toilet is approximately $750 per unit (including regular once daily cleaning), and staff recommended against the units because of anticipated issues of vandalism and the related cleaning requirements, drug use and public safety.

“They will be placed in a closed cell located in the downtown area that anything can happen and we won’t have access to that cell,” said Shirley Koenig, the city’s operations director. “There will be no sharps containers there because they can’t be affixed to the unit, and there can be issues we are anticipating based on what’s happening with the washroom facility (at Cenotaph Park) and maintenance and issues that we have there.”

Said Coun. Scott Anderson: “If we’re just putting a target out there, it’s rather pointless.”

At its regular meeting June 10, questions were asked about the status of the new and replacement washrooms proposed for the downtown core, as recommended in the Activate Safety Task Force recommendations. Council approved $200,000 for the replacement washroom and $165,000 for the new washroom.

READ ALSO: Vernon permanent washrooms delayed

The new facilities were referred to as ‘Portland Loos,’ the type of washroom recommended by staff for its resilient design and reduced maintenance requirements.

The Portland Loos are designed and built in the United States and costs have increased, said Koenig in a report to council, due to the U.S. dollar and the Loos’ popularity, and delivery time has been identified as a minimum of nine months.

The city put out a notice of intent to purchase to determine if there were other companies that could provide a similar product and meet the city’s requirements.

“Two companies responded, saying they could provide a product similar to the Portland Loo, but we reviewed their products and determined they were not appropriate for the type of facility the city is requiring,” said Koenig.

A third, unnamed company came forward, saying they could supply a washroom that meets the city’s requirements at a much reduced cost ($75,000 to $100,000, not including installation) and has a delivery time of six-to-eight weeks.

“We are in the process of finalizing the details to proceed with construction of one new (single stall) washroom to be located near the bus stop on 30th Avenue adjacent to Nature’s Fare, or other appropriate location,” said Koenig.

The existing public washroom near Cenotaph Park will stay in operation until the new washroom is in place, then the existing washroom will be removed and replaced.

Koenig said security patrols and cleaning frequency have been increased near the facility.

Mayor Victor Cumming motioned to place the porta potties near Linear Park as a short-term solution.

“I think we need to have temporary toilets to go in right away,” said Cumming. “We fully expected these other ones to be in place this summer, and they’re not. I think we need them.”

The cost for installing the two porta potties will come from surplus saved on the ordering of the new and replacement washrooms, as motioned by Coun. Kari Gares which was unanimously supported.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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