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Adam & Antonia @ Darcys @ Darcy's Pub

Victoria public toilet in the running for Canada's King of the Throne

Sep 26 2012
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Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

The Langley Loo is in the running for bathroom fame.

The $90,000 outdoor amenity on Langley Street, near Bastion Square, is one of five Canadian biffies nominated in the third annual Cintas Canada's Best Restroom Contest.

Winning the contest earns the title King of the Throne, along with a year of bragging rights. The aptly nicknamed Langley Loo is locking horns with four other Canadian lavatories: one in Vancouver at the Georgian Court Hotel; two others in Toronto at the King Street Earls restaurant, and This is London nightclub; and one in Repentigny, Que. at the Centre for Professional Training.

Cintas, the company sponsoring the award, provides a range of business services, including restroom design.

The Langley Loo stands alone as an outdoor water closet. It has been in place since last November.

"It's been tackling a problem," said Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

"When I've been to conferences about downtowns, washrooms are one of the things people have been talking about because of bar crowds and an increase in social issues, and more businesses finding that noncustomers are using their washrooms.

"Publicly available washrooms are becoming more and more in demand."

There are various types of alfresco commodes, some requiring tokens, some self-cleaning, but Langley Street's stainless-steel structure has a more basic operation. It is cleaned four times a day and is always open. Thornton-Joe was behind the placement of an interior sign that asks people to call a given number if the loo is unkempt.

Victoria's first 24/7 public washrooms were created when city council decided to keep the Centennial Square facilities open and monitored through the night, something of particular help to the street population.

That was followed in 2009 by a $75,000 outdoor urinal at Pandora Avenue and Government Street, which went on to earn an International Downtown Association design award the following year.

The Langley Street site was chosen for the next public washroom because it is a busy area at night and is also frequented by tourists.

Thornton-Joe quoted from contest material in explaining why Victoria's privy made the cut.

"They wrote that the Langley Street Loo is applauded for its ecofriendly and open design," she said.

Also noted are the exterior hand-washing station, solar-powered lighting and graffiti-proof coating.

The loo is helpful to businesses, and leads to fewer problems arising from people relieving themselves in downtown doorways, Thornton-Joe said.

City of Victoria spokeswoman Katie Josephson said the Langley Loo has been well received, much like its predecessor at Pandora and Government.

"Generally speaking, it's been overwhelmingly positive."

Online voting continues until Oct. 12. at victoria.ca under the "What's New" section, or at bestrestroom.com/canada.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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