City of Ottawa staff propose public washroom ideas

Options range from standard porta-potties to fully automated, heated buildings

CBC News, May 22, 2015

City of Ottawa staff have come up with four options for a possible public washroom pilot project after an advocacy group called GottaGo! lobbied a city councillor into action.

Coun. Catherine McKenney made a campaign promise to explore ways to install a public washroom in her ward because she thinks there’s validity to the idea that there just aren’t enough places for a person to go to the washroom.

Staff came up with four options (two stalls per unit) for such a washroom in Centretown’s Dundonald Park, which include:

  • A standard portable washroom with fencing around it to deter vandals. They’re not heated or insulated and therefore could not be used in cold weather. The city currently uses anywhere from 70 to 120 of them during the summer season. They cost about $2,500.
  • Precast concrete buildings can be installed permanently with indoor plumbing and lighting, but they’re not heated or insulated and therefore can’t be used in cold weather. They cost about $125,000.
  • The standard building construction option would involve a standard design using a prefabricated shell or custom components, designed for all-season use with full service. They cost anywhere from $300,000 to $350,000.
  • Fully automated washrooms include access control (with coins or tokens), automation and self-cleaning, and they can be used all year and are serviced by staff three times per day. Toronto purchased 20 of them to install in the next 20 years. They cost about $400,000.

But before the city could move ahead with a pilot project, McKenney would need the support of the mayor and other councillors, and would also need to find the money.

You can listen to McKenney discuss the idea with CBC Radio Ottawa Morning reporter Hallie Cotnam in the player below.