At the City Council FEDCO meeting on December 1, the staff report on toilets for the LRT stations was received. It said that the “upset limit” for the toilets at Bayview and Hurdman stations would be $2.05 million to build them; that the toilets would have estimated “lifecycle costs” of $224, 400 and maintenance costs of $13,000/month. They would be built, managed and maintained by the RTG group (the LRT contractor).
The FEDCO Committee has now sent the report back to staff and asked them to report on pay-to-pee options and automated public toilet options by December 9.
The report provided no justification or comparison information for these figures whatsoever. We have seen publicly- available reports for other cities on public toilet provision, that provide masses of useful information and analysis. This is not one of them. We demand that the background work for the staff report be made public.
We think the costs are over-blown, and probably include penalties for varying the contract with the RTG group. We have heard that the variation penalty is $1 million or more, although we have been unable to get this information from the City.
GottaGo! thinks that public toilets should be supported by taxpayers as a necessary public good. Fee-for-service for a necessity of life is an unjust form of tax that falls most heavily on the impoverished and those who need the service the most. Increasing transit fares (some of the highest in Canada) are already prohibitive for many people in this City.
However, if the only way we can get toilets in the LRT stations is through a user-pay program, then this is better than no toilets at all. At least once they are built, we have the option of lobbying to get the fee removed.
Call your Councillor. So far the news polls are running about 65-70% against charging for toilet use.
Stories about this issue can be found at:
CBC News, December 1, 2015. Ottawa Reacts to Paid Public Bathrooms at LRT Stations
Ottawa Citizen, December 1, 2015. Joanne Laucius. Pay as you go? Mayor wants report on pay toilets before approving LRT wshroom funding.
Ottawa Sun. December 1, 2015. Jon Willing. Pay-and-go Potty Plan considered for LRT.
Metro News. December 2, 2015. Pay-to-Pee? City Considers Coin-Operated LRT Washrooms.
Ottawa Sun. December 2, 2015. guest column by Joan Kuyek. It Should be Free to Pee at LRT