Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Going, going... gone: City pulls plug on BIZ 'relief' spots

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If you have to go, don't count on using the two downtown port-a-potties. They're gone.

The two portable toilets set up weeks ago by a Main Street business with considerable media hoopla are no longer at the corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street.

Zoning officials put a lid on two downtown port-a-potties Wednesday after city staff was concerned they didn't look good at the downtown intersection.

The potties were part of an effort to cut down on public urination and were slated to remain on the property of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture for three months as part of a pilot project between the company and the Downtown Biz.

Owner Wins Bridgman said city officials asked for the potties to be removed and told him the corner of Higgins and Main is not a suitable location for portable toilets and the idea needs further review.

Bridgman was in the process of getting a permit from the City of Winnipeg for the toilets when officials pulled the plug on the idea. He said he didn't have a city permit for the port-a-potties since he didn't realize he needed one until late last week.

In the two weeks the potties sat on the corner, Bridgman said that stretch of Main Street didn't smell like urine.

Downtown Biz was paying $750 for the rental toilets and Bridgman's company was covering the liability insurance.

Terry Aseltine, spokesman for the city's planning, property and development department, said the city agreed the toilets were a good idea -- but placing them on a major intersection in front of a mural wasn't.

Aseltine acknowledged public urination is a problem, but said the city is trying to beautify Main Street and putting toilets at Higgins and Main isn't the location.

"What they will have to do is come up with a better solution," he said.

Bridgman's architecture firm sent a letter to Mayor Sam Katz last year about the ongoing problem of public urination in the downtown. He said he never heard back from city hall and decided to pursue the pilot project to see if it could make a difference.

Bridgman said he's still working with the city and Downtown Biz staff to find another location for the port-a-potties.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 12, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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