1101 Baxter Road, Box 5020
We are writing to express our concern about the plan to install a self-cleaning public washroom in the Byward Market (Officials announce $1.69 million for ByWard Market infrastructure including self-cleaning public washroom, Ottawa Citizen, July 20, 2021).
While we fully support a public toilet in that area, our research indicates that a self-cleaning toilet is likely to be excessively expensive, both to install and importantly to maintain.
Canadian experience with these toilets in Montreal and Vancouver reveals significant problems. Not only are they initially very expensive, they are technically complicated and thus costly to maintain. Vancouver, for example, has experienced frequent mechanical issues and, at one point, had to import a technician from France to do the work.
Montreal’s self-cleaning toilets have also had mixed reviews.
A public toilet with a contractor hired to clean and monitor it seems a better choice. Not only does it assure regular cleaning and maintenance, it also provides greater safety and some flexibility. As just one example, a 2020 pilot project done in Edmonton (Whyte Avenue Public Toilet) found that the benefits included reduced police presence, reduced number of illegal incidents, and overall increased usage by the public.
We urge the city to reconsider the plan for a self-cleaning public toilet.
GottaGo! Core Team Member