British Columbia

'Canada's best toilet' being installed in Smithers, B.C.

The community of Smithers has decided to buy a Portland Loo, a public toilet designed by the city of Portland to solve common problems with other outdoor facilities.

Portland Loo is durable, low-maintenance and received praise from other B.C. cities

Portland Loos are made out of stainless steel and coated with an anti-graffiti finish. (The Portland Loo)

It's been called the perfect public toilet and the best toilet in Canada and now Smithers, B.C., is getting its very own own Portland Loo.

"It seems to have got a lot of the design aspects of a great public washroom right," said Mayor Taylor Bachrach, in explaining the decision from the community's finance committee.

Created by the City of Portland, the toilet is designed to be durable, low-maintenance and deter criminal activity.

Angled slats allow police to monitor people inside the Portland Loo while still maintaining privacy. (The Portland Loo)

"It's very small, it doesn't have a sink so people's time in the facility is shorter," Bachrach told ​Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

Instead, the sink is outside in order to encourage people to get in and out quicker.

There are also angled slats so that law enforcement officials can monitor people using the toilet without compromising their privacy.

"While there's a lot of visual privacy, they've also tried to not make it a place where you're hiding away and you can do whatever you want," said Bachrach.

Winning design

The units are also lightweight, made of stainless steel and come with graffiti-proof coating in order to require minimal ongoing maintenance.

Victoria's Langley Street Loo was purchased in 2011 to provide a place for downtown revellers to relieve themselves. (City of Victoria)

Bachrach said he hopes the toilet will play a key role in Smithers' development.

"We want our downtown to be a great public space, and great public spaces ... need public washrooms," he said. "And there are a lot of public washrooms out there, I'm sure your listeners will agree, that are either disgusting or downright sketchy." 

The community has been using an off-street port-a-potty in the summer months, but council voted to purchase a Portland Loo after hearing about its success in other communities as a year-round facility. 

Notably, a unit installed on Langley Street in Victoria was voted the best public washroom in Canada

Cold weather a challenge

One challenge with bringing the Loo to Smithers could be the weather.

The town of Smithers wants to install the Portland Loo in Bovill Square, which is often used for public gatherings and is currently serviced by a port-a-potty in summer months. (Dan Mesec/Town of Smithers)

While current units are rated for use down to -15 C, Smithers is looking into retrofitting them to accommodate for Northern B.C. winters that often dip to below -20 C.

Bachrach said he hopes to have the Portland Loo installed in Smithers' Bovill Square by this summer.

To hear more click on the audio labeled 'Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach explains why he wants to buy a toilet from Portland.'

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