2 self-cleaning toilets in Calgary’s East Village closed, will soon be replaced – Calgary

When the River Walk self-cleaning public toilets were first installed in 2011, they caused a stir due to their unique design. However, more recently, this conversation has turned into a concern about their safety and upkeep.

“I think due to the nature of the facilities themselves, we were seeing a significant volume of social unrest, drug use and drug trafficking in and around the facilities,” said Clare LePan, spokesperson for Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), a subsidiary of the City of Calgary. « There were also things that were flushed down the toilet that led to operational considerations. »

It was these concerns that led to the closing of bathrooms earlier this year.

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Before closing, toilet hours were reduced. Now that the facilities have officially closed, two temporary restrooms have been installed near the East Village Public Gardens.

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LePan said these temporary toilets are of a more basic variety that haven’t been associated with the kind of maintenance and safety issues the previous ones had – which is a relief to area residents who say public toilets are a necessity.

“The temporary location seems fine. It’s a little further away from the main river walk so maybe (they’re) not as visible,” said resident Tom Jenson. “I think there’s a fair demand for that. The people along the River Walk – whether you live here or are just passing through – it’s a good thing to have around.

« I think it’s just a balance between communicating where the restrooms are and encouraging people to use them, » LePan added of the location of the temporary restrooms. “Most of the East Village bathrooms located in private businesses are for guest use only, so it is important that the bathrooms continue to be adjacent to the regional trail, where we see a large number of visitors using them. . »

The construction of the new bathrooms will cost $800,000 and will see a jury of community and architectural representatives oversee the project, which is currently in the design phase.

« The design contest is ongoing right now, » LePan said. « We expect to have a successful candidate selected by the end of this year. »

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The new East Village bathrooms are expected to be ready by 2023.

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Chaz Smith is a homeless rights advocate. He said more public restrooms like the ones just closed are needed across Calgary to better serve the city’s vulnerable population.

“By limiting access to toilets, we encourage public urination and things like that,” said Smith, who is the chairman, CEO and founder of BeTheChangeYYC.

“For some, it’s a way to brush their teeth or access water for their water bottle. We know that public access to toilets in companies can be quite difficult for people who are homeless. They are often targeted as unwanted guests.

“It is very unfortunate because when you are not able to have access to a shower regularly or do your laundry regularly, it is difficult to access these toilets in companies when you are considered someone who is not welcome in this space. »

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Smith added that the lack of accessible washrooms in Calgary has been a constant challenge for many years.

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After the East Village self-cleaning restrooms closed, the only city-owned automated public restrooms are in Tomkins Park on 17th Avenue, which costs $50,000 a year to operate.

A city spokesperson said there are no plans to add additional automated toilets at this time.

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