David Ball wonders if the $120,000 outdoor toilet set up in Diana Krall Square earlier this year has been a justifiable use of taxpayer dollars.
Ball, who regularly visits the downtown core, said he has been paying attention to the toilet since it was installed and has seen few people actually use it.
He said the cost of the toilet equates to approximately $3,000 per square foot, about 10 times more expensive than most luxury homes in the city, and he questions whether it has been successful in helping to deal with the issue of public urination downtown, particularly in the evenings.
John Cooper is president of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association which had allocated $23,000 toward the installation of the new loo.
He said that "without a doubt," many of the businesses that the DNBIA represent are reporting that a number of their concerns around public urination have been alleviated since the new toilet was installed. Cooper said that there is acceptance among business owners that while nothing can be done to completely eliminate the problem, the washroom has been helpful.
Randy Churchill, the bylaw manager for the City of Nanaimo which paid for the bulk of the expensive washroom, said that while it can't be definitively connected to the new toilet, it's a fact that the number of tickets handed out downtown for public urination has dropped approximately 23 per cent since the washroom was installed.
"It's a solid steel toilet that is cold to use and I just don't believe many people would want to use it as winter sets in," Ball said Wednesday.
"I have to wonder how we're going to get the full value for the high cost of this toilet. Maybe there's gold under the metal."
Cooper said previously that the DNBIA had studied the issue of downtown urination for years as part of a collaborative effort with Barwatch and the Safer Nanaimo Working Group.
He said that while it's more expensive than many other alternatives, its design is more safe and attracts less illegal activity than alternatives such as cinder block, detached bathrooms.
© Copyright 2013