24-hour restroom in Prince Rupert seen as solution for restroom accessibility

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Last month, some eyebrows were raised when Prince Rupert city council expressed support for the development of a 24-hour public restroom with a $200,000 price tag, plus annual maintenance costs.

However, the head of a group that wants to see its creation says it will provide a crucial service to the city.

Derry Bott is the coordinator of the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society's Reaching Home program. He says a facility like this is needed, especially at a time when many public restrooms are closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

"There has been no place for homeless people or any body really to be able to use the washroom or wash their hands or whatever the case may be."

Likewise, he says it could address the issue of human waste on the city's streets.

"I know that there are a lot of businesses in town that are complaining about people using their back doorways or bushes beside their building and etc., etc., as a washroom."

The Society's Reaching Home program is in charge of distributing grant money given to them by the federal government to address Indigenous homelessness. The City of Prince Rupert recently put in a proposal to the society to access grant funds to build the restroom, which the Society wants to see built. 

Rosa Miller, corporate administrator for the City of Prince Rupert, says human defecation is something the city often receive complaints about. 

"It's on a pretty regular basis, more so than you would believe"

Back in 2017, the Town of Smithers made headlines when they installed their own Portland Loo, a brand of public toilet designed to negate the issues that public toilets usually have,

Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill says the facility, which also cost $200,000 has been a success, especially during the pandemic.

"From what I've heard, people have been referred from all sorts of places in the community if a public washroom is needed. So in my view it's been a good success, it's a good product, it's open all the time, it's difficult to vandalize, it's very safe."

Atrill says that although the facility cost a lot up front, it's been a good investment in the long term.