Edmonton city council is being asked to consider nine new public washrooms at LRT stations, downtown and on Whyte Avenue, at a cost of almost $750,000.

Coun. Ben Henderson said it's a responsibility the city has been avoiding.

"We've been lucky. We've been able to ride on the back, I think, of the private sector, who've let people into their restaurant, into their shop, into their store," said Henderson.

"You go through cities throughout Europe, and it just goes without question there's publicly available facilities and always have been."

The recommendation, contained in a transit committee report, estimates the annual cost of maintaining the new facilities at almost $640,000, a figure that would include the cost of security.

The new washrooms could be traditional stand-alone buildings or automated public toilets. In five LRT stations, staff washrooms could be renovated for public use. Washrooms are already in the plans at Southgate and Century Park LRT stations.

The city has some public washrooms downtown. But the report notes that they are not available 24 hours, and not all areas of downtown are served. It budgets $54,000 to allow the Churchill Station washroom to be open around the clock.

The report identifies groups such as transit users, tourists and the homeless as being most in need of the new facilities.

It also says that more public washrooms would bring Edmonton in line with other Canadian cities where washrooms have been built in high pedestrian traffic areas, such as Calgary's Red Mile.

The report will be discussed by Edmonton's transportation committee on Oct. 20.