Options on tap for call of Mother Nature

Downtown public washroom debate continues at Vernon city hall

The public’s business continues to dominate discussions at Vernon city hall.

For the third meeting in a row Monday, council members debated whether there is a need for public washrooms for special gatherings in Spirit Square.

“It will be an issue we have with every event for Spirit Square,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe of the lack of facilities.

Council instructed staff to detail options for washrooms that are accessible to the public and possibly permanent.

The possible options include a new stand-alone building, a portable structure or using the existing washrooms in the old library, which are being converted into city staff offices.

The matter first arose weeks ago because the washrooms in the old library weren’t going to be available during the Civic Sounds summer concerts.

The Downtown Vernon Association will have to pay for a staff person to make city hall washrooms accessible during the concerts.

It could cost $50,000 to construct a basic, standalone washroom facility while a mobile structure could be leased for $2,400 a month or purchased for $45,000.

“During the winter, there were two or three big events that needed washrooms,” said O’Keefe.

“It’s poor planning in Spirit Square not to have public washrooms for extended hours.”

City staff are reluctant to open up the washrooms in the former library after regular work hours because of vandalism and security concerns.

Some council members aren’t convinced Spirit Square should be the main focus when there is the broader issue of public washrooms downtown.

“It’s unrealistic to believe on a Saturday and Sunday there are piles of people at Spirit Square. There are not but on downtown streets there is,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham of shoppers and tourists.

Cunningham added there are already washrooms within close proximity of Spirit Square including city hall, the old library and the museum.

Council also instructed staff Monday to come back with possible options for public washrooms throughout the entire downtown core.

Among the alternatives are a portable facility or incorporating washrooms in a new public art gallery if it is constructed on the former medical clinic site.




Vernon Morning Star

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