The trendy Portland Loo taking Vancouver by storm might be a reality in Terrace soon as the city considers installing one of the all-season public washroom in the downtown core.
At its Mar. 22 meeting, Terrace council discussed the need for an all-season public washroom to serve the needs of vulnerable individuals and those living without consistent housing after fielding consistent complaints of human waste being present in the downtown area.
After reviewing two leading all-season washroom manufacturers –Portland Loo and Rec Tech Industries – staff are recommending the Portland Loo based on cost, durability and maintenance.
The washroom unit costs between $150,000 to $250,000 and installation costs to connect to sewer and water services range between $25,000 to $40, 000.
In April, the city will apply for two grants to cover the cost — one for $200,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities and the other for $50,000 from the Coastal Gaslink Community Investment fund.
The Portland Loo – first developed by the city of Portland, Oregon – has gained popularity since its inception in 2008. In B.C., the Portland Loo was first installed in Victoria in 2012 and since then other cities like Nanaimo, Kamloops and Smithers have followed suit. The most recent installation of a Portland Loo, last week in a Vancouver park, had critics question its $645,000 price tag.
The units are appropriate for year-round use and are designed and built sturdily enough to withstand vandalism and inappropriate use.
In addition to the purchase and installation price tag, city staff estimate maintenance, cleaning and inspections at $10,000 a year.
Three potential location options for the washroom unit have been identified on the north east corner of Greig and Sparks behind Safeway, the south west corner of Kalum and Lakelse in from the former North Coast Anglers site and on the south west corner of Greig and Kalum beside the former Co-op site.
The city also consulted with other organizations in the community such as the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society, Ksan Housing Society and the Terrace Greater Beautification Society.
Currently, access to public washrooms is limited in the city. The only purpose-built public washroom in the city – located at George Little Park – is not available for use during the winters.
In addition, the closures of other communal washrooms at the Sportsplex and other municipal buildings during the pandemic affected people experiencing homelessness who were left without options.
Last year, between June and Sept. the city addressed this issue by installing two porta potties on the south side of the former Co-op site. The city said that these installations were “frequently used and no significant vandalism issues or inappropriate use were reported.” However the key challenge was the cost of a contractor to clean and maintain the units.