Local residents and visitors will soon have more public washrooms to go, when they have to go, specifically at select public parks.
A spokesperson for the Vancouver Park Board told Daily Hive Urbanized a total of four single-use public washrooms at three public park sites will be completed sometime in Fall 2021.
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Two toilets will be located at Crab Park, one toilet will be at Coopers’ Park just east of the Cambie Street Bridge in North False Creek, and one toilet will be at Columbia Park near Oakridge Centre.
The toilets will be prefabricated, modular, standalone washroom structures — an acquisition of four Portland Loo washrooms, which is a proprietary public washroom designed by the City of Portland and now marketed and sold by an Oregon company under license from the city.
For the Park Board, each unit of the Portland Loo is expected to cost $150,000, not including the various on-site costs for installation labour, landscaping, concrete foundation, and electrical, water, and sewage utility connections.
Based on a Park Board document this month on seeking a consultant for this project, the Crab Park location carries a total estimated cost of $698,600, including $384,200 for on-site work and $14,400 for demolition work.
The Columbia Park washroom is expected to cost $458,600, with $305,500 towards on-site work and $3,100 for demolition work. This will be built on the footprint of a demolished fieldhouse building damaged by arson in 2012.
Over at Coopers’ Park, the washroom will cost $482,000, with $328,900 for on-site work and $3,100 for demolition.
These are cost estimates that will be further refined and later finalized after consultant and construction contractors are selected.
In contrast, a total of 28 new public toilet and urinal stalls within three new standalone public washroom buildings in Whistler Village will carry a combined construction cost of about $4.6 million. The resort municipal government completed the first location in late 2020, and the remaining two sites will be built this year.
The Park Board told Daily Hive Urbanized it successfully received a $645,000 grant from the provincial government’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program to cover the full range of costs of acquiring and installing the Portland Loo at the Coopers’ Park location, including consultants and contractors.
While each washroom location carries the same construction cost as a new laneway home or even a lower-end, two-storey, single-family home, some of the cost saving offsets are expected to come from lower operating and maintenance costs over the lifespan of each Portland Loo.
The strategy noted that there are currently nearly 100 public washrooms under the Park Board’s jurisdiction, with about $25,000 allocated per washroom annually for janitorial staff — equivalent to $63 per day per washroom.
This particular pre-fabricated toilet design is durable against graffiti and vandalism, and the use of stainless steel materials allows it to be easily cleaned by pressure washing.
Moreover, it is universally accessible, large enough to fit a stroller or bicycle inside, and the design discourages lingering and illicit activity inside. Slatted panels provide privacy and airflow, but also allows passersby to see the floor of the stall, which provides added safety through visibility if someone inside needs medical assistance.
The exterior of each structure includes hand-washing stations.
If these pilot project locations are successful, more Portland Loo washrooms could be installed across the city.
Final design work for the public washrooms will be completed this spring, and a bidding process for a building contractor will occur in the summer with construction starting shortly after.
The Coopers’ Park washroom is expected to be a high-use location with an estimated 30,000 annual users, given its proximity to the seawall, central location, and dense residential area. Separately, there are other major upgrades planned for Coopers’ Park — a complete revamp and expansion of its dog park with purpose-built amenities, features, and theming.