The city is, to say it politely, urinating away $100,000 of taxpayers’ money to build a public washroom at Diana Krall Plaza.
Proponents of this always-open restroom say it will reduce public urination in the downtown core when bars let out – shopkeepers say they’re tired of opening shop with a whiff of the prior evening’s festivities in the air – and will provide a much-needed amenity to tourists and shoppers.
Let’s strip that argument down to the bare facts.
For one, it is illegal to urinate in our streets, store doorways and alleyways. It’s akin to increasing the speed limit because people are driving too fast.
Also, providing a single toilet to accommodate dozens of tipsy barflies isn’t going to solve the problem. Bars closing in the wee hours equates to public urination – it happens in every city in the land, which is why most municipalities separate the shopping district from the nightclub district.
A recent pilot project between the city and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association that saw a porta-potty located at Bastion and Skinner streets was deemed a success. So then why were 324 tickets issued for public urination in the downtown area?
And building it for tourists? Tourists don’t pay taxes in Nanaimo. They breeze through, spend a few bucks, then move on. Their nearby hotel rooms have bathrooms, as do the restaurants we expect them to visit.
As noted at Monday’s city council meeting, building new infrastructure only increases the burden on taxpayers, as will the annual $10,000 needed to maintain the restroom. We already know we can barely afford what we have.
Council needs to revisit what its priorities are for its taxpaying citizens before it flushes any more of our money down the toilet.