Architect installs toilets for homeless near Winnipeg office

A Winnipeg architect says his latest project is making a big difference in his neighbourhood: he's given people who live on the streets near his inner-city office a place to relieve themselves.

A Winnipeg architect says his latest project is making a big difference in his neighbourhood: he's given people who live on the streets near his inner-city office a place to relieve themselves.

Wins Bridgman recently moved his firm to a renovated building at the corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street. He noticed a strong smell of urine in the area, where homeless people who live or spend time had no access to a toilet.

Bridgman wanted the city to build public washrooms near his firm, but says the city encountered some logistical problems.

So he and the Downtown Business Improvement Zone set up two portable toilets on the corner. A few weeks later, he said, the difference is noticeable.

"In a very matter-of-fact way, people on Main Street come in and use the Port-A-Potties," he said. "It's incredible, because there is no more smell of urine."

It cost $700 to rent the two portable loos for three months, including the cost of biweekly cleaning, Bridgman said, a cost he considers well worth the result.

Police and BIZ patrollers check the restrooms regularly to ensure they aren't being used for illegal activity, he said.

They will assess how well the addition to the neighbourhood is serving the needs of local street people toward the end of the fall.

Winnipeg's last experience with public washrooms came to an end in the summer of 2006, when a small building in Memorial Park, across from the legislature, was torn down after three decades of controversy over its use by transients and drug users.