One standard and one accessible portable washroom have arrived at Sidney’s Beacon Park for the summer.
Council late last month unanimously approved their rental at an estimated cost of $4,500 for the period from June 1 to Sept. 30, according to a staff report. The toilets would be located on the Beacon Wharf causeway, near the barriers that restrict vehicle access to the wharf, it reads. They would remain in place during the summer with the intent to leave them open and available to the public around the clock. Staff, however, may, choose to lock them during times when events do not take place in the park. Current plans would see the portable facilities undergo cleaning twice a week with staff looking into the possibility and costs of increasing the frequency of cleaning. Staff will also monitor whether an additional portable toilet is needed and look into ways of improving their aesthetic by placing them behind some sort of screen.
While Sidney has approved plans for publicly accessible washrooms along Sidney’s waterfront, they will not be available until early next year. The lifting of public health regulations allowing the resumptions of familiar events coupled with a general shortage of portable toilets has also created a bottleneck. Staff earlier this spring told the public that the costly provision of portable toilets has discouraged smaller groups from coming forward with event applications, while testing the budgets of others.
Coun. Chad Rintoul acknowledged that the municipality was planning to have publicly accessible washrooms near Beacon Park in place for this summer. “With procurement and other factors, I get that this has fallen behind,” he said. “But this is a great step to encourage use of the park and provide some public facilities.” He also pointed out that council is approving the measure on the premise that staff would continue monitoring various aspects of operating the portable toilets.
“We don’t need to micromanage this at this level for the season,” he said.
Coun. Terri O’Keeffe disagreed with these comments. “To me, it’s not mirco-managing,” she said in pushing for supplying two rather than just one standard portable in addition to the accessible one. “It’s being proactive,” she said. “I don’t think two washrooms down there are going to be sufficient. ” Following the COVID-pandemic, Sidney will host more events than in the past.
While staff could address the issue when the municipality receives complaints, it may be difficult to rent another standard portable toilet in time, she added.
But her amendment for another standard portable toilet failed 4-2 with Coun. Barbara Fallot joining O’Keeffe in support.
“I don’t know what basis we can have to suggest there should be x-number of portable washrooms down there,” said Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith. “So I’m comfortable with the staff recommendation.”
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