Vernon’s downtown public bathrooms were vandalized 52 times last year costing the city more than $42,000 in cleanup and bylaw was called 85 times to deal with people misusing the stalls.
Now, city staff is recommending council adjust the hours of the two transit terminal toilets from 24-hour operation to 7-10 p.m. Meanwhile, the public washrooms on 35th Street and 30th Avenue would remain open 24-hours a day.
From clogged toilets, vandalism, broken glass pipes, needles and blood, operations staff have recorded all incidents in a vandalism logsheet, noting costs totalled $42,085.12 — an expense on top of the estimated $90,594 annual costs, complete with the $51,738 cleaning contracted.
Staff’s recommendation may show a reduction in vandalism costs, but the report notes with fewer hours available for use, the public may turn to “alleys or sidewalks to remedy their situation.”
Currently, the washrooms are cleaned five times between 8-8 p.m., seven days a week, but the staff report notes most vandalism incidents occur sometime after the last security check at 10 p.m. and the first of the morning around 7 a.m.
Sex, drug use, vandalism, overnight stays and people barricading themselves inside are among the reasons Bylaw Services responded to the downtown washroom 85 times last year.
The Downtown Vernon Association says it too has received several complaints about the improper or illegal use and cleanliness of the washrooms.
“The Downtown Vernon Association maintains that safe, clean and accessible public toilets are an important amenity for a wide variety reasons,” a letter to council reads.
Convenience and comfort for downtown visitors is one, the other is downtown businesses have seen fewer events of human waste found around their properties since the washrooms opened last spring.
The DVA supports staff’s recommendation and suggests cleaning increase from five times a day to an hourly basis.
Council requested more information regarding operational costs and timing of vandalism occurrences during the regular meeting Jan. 11, 2021. The recommendation to change the hours will come before council this Monday (Feb. 22) for consideration.