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'Langley Street Loo' offers relief around the clock

Nov 30 2011
City of Victoria workers install a new $90,000 unisex toilet on Langley Street, near the Maritime Museum of B.C. at Bastion Square on Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011. Unlike the city's first freestanding urinal, the new loo has a door and it has louvres at the bottom so you can see it's occupied.  

City of Victoria workers install a new $90,000 unisex toilet on Langley Street, near the Maritime Museum of B.C. at Bastion Square on Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011. Unlike the city's first freestanding urinal, the new loo has a door and it has louvres at the bottom so you can see it's occupied.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com

Bastion Square has a new privy.

Dubbed the "Langley Street Loo," the new $90,000, unisex toilet was expected to be in operation and open to the public by today.

The stainless-steel permanent structure will be open 24 hours a day and replaces a portable urinal that was set out on weekend nights.

"The location on Langley Street is a very busy location for the evening crowd, but also for tourists in the summer. It's an ideal location," said Dwayne Kalynchuk, city director of engineering and public works.

"It's fully accessible for people with disabilities in wheelchairs. It has a wash station on the exterior, so it's quite a nice unit."

The permanent facility is expected to be more cost effective over the long term and provide greater accessibility to all users, seven days a week, than the portable urinals. The ready-to-go stainless steel facility was bought from the City of Portland for $90,000.

It features solar powered lighting, a unisex toilet, an exterior hand-washing station and graffiti-proof coating.

Portland has installed seven of the washrooms, making slight modifications with each one, Kalynchuk said. The success of the washrooms has been attributed to their unique and open design.

The Langley Street Loo will be cleaned four times a day or more if needed. If the new loo proves to be successful, the city could consider adding more washrooms at other downtown locations.

It is the second public privy the city has installed to combat urination in public spaces such as business doorways — an all-too-frequent occurrence after late-night bar closings, especially on weekends.

The first, a freestanding urinal at Government Street and Pandora Avenue, was installed in 2009 and has been a success.

Last year, the city was recognized by the International Downtown Association with a Downtown Pinnacle Award for its work in designing an innovative solution to a common urban issue.

Custom designed by Matthew Soules Architecture in Vancouver, the open-air urinal, which cost about $75,000, is surrounded by a curve of green steel poles. There is no door. Because of the way the poles are arranged, the urinal isn't visible to passersby, but it's possible to tell if someone is inside.

There is a door on the new Langley Street Loo.

"When you close the door the lights go on on the inside. So there is a sense of privacy but it has louvres at the bottom so you can see if somebody is in it.

"The intent is just to make sure there is

nothing untoward occurring in it. The police can drive by and see if there are people inside the facility."

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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