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City to install robust Portland Loo public toilet this year

The Portland Loo is designed to be durable, less prone to damage and easy to maintain
A pair of Portland Loos set up in a Washington State city. (File photo)

City officials plan to install a $150,000 public-use Portland Loo toilet somewhere in the downtown core this spring or early summer, having narrowed down two spots for the unit that has been sittimg in storage since it was bought in early 2021.

Designed to be durable, less prone to damage and easy to maintain, the toilets can function year-round and are built sturdily enough to withstand vandalism.

One possible location is somewhere on the 4600 Block of Lakelse Ave. and the other is at the city-owned former Terrace Co-op site where the city has already placed a far less sophisticated porta-pottie outdoor toilet.

Placing the Portland Loo on Lakelse Ave. requires the support of merchants belonging to the Terrace Downtown Improvement Association, who aren’t opposed to its presence, but wonder how it would fit into a longer term plan to modernize the look and feel of the 4600 Block.

“A final decision on the installation location will be made in the coming one to two months and staff will schedule the installation for spring or early summer 2023,” said city communications officer Tyler Clarke.

Hooking up the toilet to existing city water and sanitary lines and to electricity will cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000, Clarke estimated.

To finance its $150,000 purchase the city dipped into a provincial grant meant to cover COVID-caused expenses in the earlier days of the pandemic. That followed unsuccessful grant applications made by the city to cover the cost.

The purchase of the Portland Loo dates back to when the city responded to growing calls for ways to ease scenes and incidents of public disorder in the downtown core, including the presence of human waste.

At that time, there was limited or no access to public washrooms owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city did place portable toilets of the kind commonly seen at large outdoor gatherings or construction sites but also searched for something more substantial, leading it to the Portland Loo.

First developed by the city of Portland, Oregon in 2008, the Portland Loo is a robust structure that has gained popularity, with the first such toilets in B.C. installed by the City of Victoria in 2012.

Vancouver, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Smithers have since followed suit.

With files from Binny Paul

About the Author: Rod Link

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