Smithers Interior News Editorial

Smithers Interior News Editorial

In loo of

The subject of more public restrooms raises a stink again with Smithers council

It is interesting what gets people’s hackles up.

One such project in Smithers was the infamous Portland Loo. The public restroom installed on Second Avenue at Main Street seems almost as controversial now as it was five years ago when it was installed.

There never was a question that a public restroom downtown was required. Downtown events, tourism, and just the basic need for people to have somewhere to go when they have to go, dictated that.

The sticking point, of course, was the price tag.

At nearly $200,000, it raised a lot of eyebrows and animosity.

But, it was well worth it. The specially designed toilet has a longer lifespan, is resistant to graffiti, is easier (and thus cheaper) to maintain, has a smaller footprint and is more resilient in cold weather than alternatives.

Five years later it still looks almost brand new.

Furthermore, the alternative that was considered at the time, a wooden building similar to one on the fall fairgrounds, was not that much cheaper at $150,000 and would have been more costly over the long term as we have seen with other public washrooms around town, which are often closed because of vandalism.

In short, despite the ongoing public displeasure, it was the right decision at the time.

The topic came up again last week at council because Access Smithers is lobbying for more accessible public restrooms, specifically at the Smithers Skate Park, Willowvale Marsh in close proximity to Pacific Avenues’ accessible parking lot and at Elks Park.

It is right that council decided to defer the discussion to another time because it is certainly not a good time to be thinking about spending upwards of half a million dollars on restrooms.

But that doesn’t mean that the Town, Access Smithers and possibly other civic-minded organizations and individuals couldn’t be looking for other sources of funding for something that is needed and is going to come up again in the future.

Hopefully, when it does, and if council decides to make the right decision again, it won’t be as controversial as the last time.

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