Council tries again to introduce public toilets

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Public toilets are back on the agenda at city hall, as four city councillors want to figure where to allow street people to relieve themselves on the north side of downtown.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/09/2008 (5108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Public toilets are back on the agenda at city hall, as four city councillors want to figure where to allow street people to relieve themselves on the north side of downtown.

Earlier this month, architect Wins Bridgman placed two portapotties outside his Main Street office to provide a little dignity for disadvantaged people who might otherwise be tempted to defecate or urinate outside.

He quickly noticed an immediate improvement, as it appeared homeless people actually used the bright blue biffies based on the subsiding smell of urine on nearby streets and alleys.

But only days after the washrooms appeared, Bridgman was ordered to remove them, as city rules prohibit the placement of portapotties on his property.

On Monday, city council’s downtown development committee tried to rectify the situation by asking the public service to find a way to place public washrooms in specific areas of downtown, possibly with the help of private citizens such as Bridgman.

“Washrooms are needed on North Main,” said downtown development chairman Russ Wyatt, who proposed a motion supported by Couns. Gord Steeves, Justin Swandel and Jenny Gerbasi.

Wyatt said technology has changed sin ce the city built its first public washrooms and later removed them when they became public-safety hazards. His committee asked city staff to find a way to place toilets on streets without breaking esthetic regulations or unwittingly aiding the drug trade.

While they’re thinking about Main Street, city staff may also want to consider summer-only public facilities in more upscale neighbourhoods such as Osborne Village and the Corydon strip.

Two summers ago, Edmonton placed portable washrooms along pedestrian-friendly Whyte Avenue to cut down on public urination after closing time at local bars. The biffies were put back in place this summer, despite complaints the facilities somehow encouraged public intoxication.

Riverside Park motions die

TRANSCONA Coun. Russ Wyatt and Fort Rouge’s Jenny Gerbasi are refusing to the let the Riverside Park Management scandal fade away.

The first business day after Premier Gary Doer summarily rejected their call to launch an inquiry into the non-profit organization once run by Mayor Sam Katz, Wyatt and Gerbasi tried to two sneak two new Riverside-related motions through downtown development committee.

On Monday, Wyatt tried to direct city staff to investigate all potential past and future revenues from city lands leased to Riverside Park, which sublets the properties to the Katz-owned Winnipeg Goldeyes. He also tried to direct the city to review the status of those leases.

Gerbasi voted with Wyatt on both motions, but St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves and St. Norbert’s Justin Swandel objected, causing the efforts to get hung up in a pair of 2-2 votes.

Both Wyatt and Gerbasi are pledging to keep the Riverside Park controversy alive at least until Oct. 22, when city council debates their motion to toughen up conflict-of-interest rules and possibly bring in an ethics commissioner.

South Point Douglas moves on

NOW that David Asper has refocused his football-stadium efforts on the University of Manitoba, the city has taken the brakes off plans to revitalize South Point Douglas.

Before the inner-city neighbourhood was identified as a possible home for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, city planners were in the process of trying to change the designation of the inner-city neighbourhood from an industrial area to a mixed-use neighbourhood.

The switch would allow more residential development in the leafy but rundown riverbank neighbourhood that stands be a logical extension of the Exchange District.

On Thursday, council’s planning, property and development is slated to fast-track South Point Douglas for a neighbourhood redesign.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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