The temporary public washroom outside the Ladysmith Health Food Store (Cole Schisler photo)

Vancouver Island business not happy about public porta-potty installed next door

Ladysmith Health Food Stores launches petition against the temporary washroom

The Ladysmith Health Foods Store has started a petition against a porta-potty that was installed beside their store on 1st Avenue.

Town Council voted to place the temporary washroom downtown as part of their program to help local businesses in the downtown core. With more coming downtown, and businesses unable to open their washrooms to the public, the temporary public washroom was seen as a solution.

RELATED: Town of Ladysmith updates plans to help businesses recover from COVID-19

According to Klair Strom, co-owner of the Ladysmith Health Food Store, the temporary washroom has been anything but helpful to her business.

“We’re a small business in a small town that’s experienced the crisis of a pandemic, and we managed to keep our doors open, which was not easy. To have our doors open, and to put a porta-potty beside us feels so insulting.”

In their letter, which was submitted to the Town on Friday August 7, Strom said they have proposed alternative locations for the temporary washroom. Strom said the petition has garnered 50 signatures so far.

“It doesn’t need to be right on 1st Ave, maybe a side street, or someone said to maybe put it between 631 and 621 1st Ave, because they’re not a food store,” Strom said.

Strom is concered about the potential for COVID-19 exposure within the temporary washroom. The Town does clean the washroom four times a week, however Strom remains concerned that washroom users may be exposed to COVID-19 in between the cleaning times, then come into the Ladysmith Health Food Store.

Strom has also noted that the smell of sewage from the temporary washroom has wafted into her business.

“We have absolutely have noticed the aroma,” she said. “They are dumping it twice a week, but there has been an occasion where a customer has noticed. It’s not a daily thing, but it has occurred.”

“We won’t protest a properly installed public washroom.”

Other downtown business owners, like Tylor Nelson of CrossFit Ladysmith, and Kate Cram of the Old Town Bakery have expressed their support for both the temporary washroom, and the permanent washroom.

“As the owner of a business directly beside it I can tell you I have no issues with it being there. Obviously a permanent structure will be better, but until funding is completed this is the best solution available,” Nelson said.

The Town said that the temporary washroom will remain in place until at least the end of September. Currently, the Ladysmith Kinsmen are raising funds to build a permanent public washroom on the same site as the temporary washroom.

RELATED: Ladysmith Kinsmen give back to the community

Ladysmith Kinsmen member, Duck Paterson said that the Kinsmen are $35,000 – $40,000 short of being able to complete the project.

“Our goal is next spring,” Paterson said. “Well, our goal is tomorrow – but that isn’t going to happen.”

Paterson said that the permanent washroom will be a high quality facility, which is why the project has such a high cost.

Toilets inside the washroom will be made of industrial porcelain, there will be accesible washroom facilities, touchless sinks, touchless hand dryers, change tables, and LED lighting.

As for the building itself, Paterson said it will be designed to fit the form and character of downtown Ladysmith. The facility will be heated, and provide hot water on demand.

“We’re building a top-of-the-line public washroom facility. One that will fit in with the neighbourhood, one that looks good, and won’t scare people away from using it,” Paterson said.

In the meantime, Town Council will consider the letter and petition from the Ladysmith Health Food Store at a future council meeting.

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