Calgary

Calgary unveils state-of-art public potty stop

Calgary officials are heralding the city's first self-cleaning, automated public toilet as a step toward improving the popular 17th Avenue area for visitors.

Warning light, alarm warn users to leave toilet unit after 10 minutes

Calgary officials are heralding the city's first self-cleaning, automated public toilet as a step toward improving the popular 17th Avenue area for visitors.

The device, which will be free to users, was unveiled in Tomkins Park on 17th Avenue S.W. amid a blustery snowfall Friday morning. The city wants to test the unit over the winter to determine how suitable it is in Calgary's climate.

"We know a lack of public washrooms in the centre city is a barrier to visitors, tourists and residents enjoying the area," said city official Dave Breckon. "This installation is another part of addressing the issue."

The toilet boasts an electronic sliding door, stainless steel sensor-operated sink, and even voice messages and music. It self-flushes when someone washes their hands or opens the door to leave.

After each use, the toilet seat retracts into a rear compartment, allowing an automatic wash cycle to begin that disinfects the seat, sprays the floor with water jets, and then dries everything with fans.

A light flashes after nine minutes to warn the user to wrap up their activities. At the 10-minute mark, the unit's door opens. If someone remains in the unit, motion sensors set off a piercing alarm.

The unit, similar to pay models common in western Europe, can also alert staff when it requires service, supplies or when someone calls for help from inside.

The Tomkins Park toilet is a pilot project as city administrators develop a "public toilet strategy" for other parts of Calgary's core areas, expected later this summer.

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