Smithers looks into public washroom for downtown

Town council directed staff to look into the viability of having a public washroom located along Main St.

Sometimes you just have to go.

During the Town of Smithers regular council meeting Feb. 12, council directed staff to look into the viability of having a public washroom located along Main St.

The issue arose after a petition circulated by the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society was presented to town council asking the Town of Smithers to provide the facilities for residents.

“We see a need here and we just want to provide support to those who need to go,” Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society executive director Annette Morgan said.

The petition garnered more than 100 signatures in the month or so it was available at business on Main St.

Morgan said the need is greatest among the elderly and parents with young children, who are forced to seek out a business that is willing to allow them to use their private bathroom facilities.

That isn’t fair to those on both sides of the equation, Morgan said.

Also, with the increase in events and activities on Main St., the need is only getting greater, she said.

Mayor Taylor Bachrach said he favoured trying to find a solution but he didn’t see it being included in the coming year’s budget.

“Having small kids and getting around, mostly on foot and by bicycle, I know that for many young families, especially, in our community, having a public washroom downtown would be a really great amenity,” Bachrach said.

Town staff were directed to investigate the costs and other issues surrounding a public washroom such as location and security.

“Obviously, there are a bunch of different concerns and issues that would need to be addressed if we were to look at this,” Bachrach said.

“I don’t expect anything will take place in 2013.”

One example of where a public washroom has been successfully installed in a public location is in the Village of Telkwa. They have a handicap-accessible double washroom built last spring located at Eddy Park.

It cost about $22,000, plus Village labour, and the maintenance costs so far have been minimal, said Village of Telkwa CAO Kim Martinsen.

“We haven’t had any issues whatsoever,” Martinsen said.

“The public has kept things in very good order.”

The toilets are fitted with automatic locks, which allow the public to use the facilities from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the winter months.