Winnipeg takes another look at public toilets

A City of Winnipeg committee has instructed staff to take a closer look at the idea of installing public toilets in Winnipeg's downtown.

A City of Winnipeg committee has instructed staff to take a closer look at the idea of installing public toilets in Winnipeg's downtown.

The city's standing policy committee on downtown development unanimously passed a motion Monday morning that asks for a report on the matter.

Coun. Russ Wyatt, who made the motion, said the city used to provide public toilets, and it's time to bring them back.

"Washroom technology has changed, and the ability to provide for that in public spaces, places is available," he said.

"It has been done in other cities, and I think there is definitely a need in certain parts of the downtown to provide that to ensure that we have a clean and attractive city."

The city recently ordered the removal of portable toilets installed at the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue by architect Wins Bridgman and the Downtown Business Improvement Zone.

The toilets, located next to Bridgman's newly renovated building, were provided in an attempt to provide a more dignified way for homeless people in the area to relieve themselves and help rid the area of the smell of urine, Bridgman said.

However, the toilets' sponsors didn't have the proper permits in place, and the port-o-potties were not appropriate at that location, which has been branded the "gateway to downtown," Bridgman said city officials told him.

Wyatt disagreed with the decision to remove the toilets. The city could team up with private companies to put toilets in strategic locations, he said Monday. City staff will report back on the issue in coming weeks.

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.