Monday, February 8, 2021

Council to consider opportunity to seek out funding for additional public restroom facilities in the city

The Portland Loo, an urban
washroom facility  popular
in many cities
A need for more public washroom facilities could be addressed at this evenings Prince Rupert City Council session, as the Council members give consideration towards applying for funding towards acquiring a facility similar to what is known as the Portland loo. 

In a report for Council tonight, Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben will outline that funding is available through a program administered by Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Service Society, part of a roll out of funding from the federal government towards Canada's Homeless Strategy.

Key to her report for Councillors is:

Information received by staff is that the Society believes a 24 hour standalone restroom facility with characteristics similar to those found on the Portland Loo would be advantageous towards assisting the homeless when they would not have access to restroom facilities. 

For reference, the Portland Loo specifically has certain safety features, and was designed with easy care and maintenance in mind by the City of Portland in their efforts to provide facilities that would meet the needs of the homeless. Facilities such as it are becoming more available throughout the country to provide restrooms for the public including the homeless. 

Staff have heard from downtown merchants and service organizations who have had unpleasant experiences with human waste given the lack of available facilities. The pandemic also increases the need for improved availability for hygiene which is less available to the homeless. These factors compounded by the Society’s funding availability has prompted staff to investigate the viability of providing this service here in Prince Rupert.

While the capital cost to procure and install the 24 hour restroom (estimated at 200,000 dollars) would be covered by the grant.  Council would have to approve for operating costs for the facility which will depend on the frequency of cleaning, supplies and services (hydro and water). 

In her report, Ms. Bomben outlines the city's options

Internal estimates are from $20,000 to $30,000 annually. External estimates range from a high of approximately $60,000 per year to a low of approximately $10,000 based on data obtained from various municipalities. 

Using the high internal estimated cost and barring any new sources of revenue to offset this operating cost, a 0.15% increase in property tax revenue may be required to offer this additional service. 

Given the grant would need to be committed by June 30, 2021, it is likely the 2021 budget would be impacted by only a fraction given the in service date would be in the latter half of the fiscal year.

The call for more washroom facilities was one which Council has explored in the past and with some increased with the arrival of COVID last year.  

The need for such additional public options, something which is considered an important element of providing for a response to the coronavirus.

July 7, 2020 -- Port-a-Potty Peek a Boo!

The full report to Council can be examined from tonight's Agenda package.

Some background on what the Portland Loo (and others similar to it) is all about can be found here.

Council will review and decide on whether to apply for the grant and fund the operations as part of their work this evening.

For more notes on this evening's City Council session see our Council Preview here.

A wider overview of past Council discussion themes can be explored here.


  1. Nice to have, not a must have at this point in time considering Raffles and Fisherman's Hall will have facilities coming online shortly. Put the money towards Mayor Lee's water saga.

  2. Well the need may be greater than you believe, yes the Raffles facility will soon be in full service mode, Fisherman's Hall however was sold to private interests, there is a scarcity of public toilets in town, so I can see why they may move forward with the idea