Montreal

Self-cleaning toilets coming to downtown Montreal next year

Finding a loo in downtown Montreal will get easier next summer when the city installs a dozen self-cleaning public toilets.

Ville-Marie borough earmarks $1M per year for a dozen public loos

Public toilets at Place Émilie-Gamelin have been a hit, and Ville-Marie borough wants to expand them. ( Benoît Chapdelaine/Radio-Canada)

Finding a loo in downtown Montreal will get easier next year when the city installs a dozen self-cleaning public toilets.

The Ville-Marie borough passed a budget last Thursday of more than $1 million per year for the project, for the next three years. A similar idea last year was shelved due to lack of bidders, but a new call for tenders will be launched soon.

Each toilet costs on average $300,000. Several Canadian cities, like Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, have had self-cleaning public toilets for years.

A fully automated public washroom in Toronto. (City of Toronto)

Once such toilet, at Place Émilie-Gamelin, has been used by the Quartier des spectacles over the last four months with positive results. Benoît Lemieux, the group's director of operations, reported no security issues, and employees only had to clean the facility.

"We just had to keep the toilets clean. We never witnessed anything in the toilets, no conflicts," he said.

Plaza Saint-Hubert, a commercial strip in Rosemont, installed three individual toilets along the street this past summer. Although they resemble chemical toilets, they are outfitted with a water tank.

The water levels of these tanks indicated that about 2,000 people used them every week, Mike Parente, general director of the Plaza said.

This pleased businesses on the street.

"It put a big stress on stores and restaurants, and on people who wanted to use toilets but couldn't," Parente said. "It was usually bars, and those with children under 18 couldn't go in."

High-tech public toilets have existed in Vancouver for years. (CBC)

The toilets on the Plaza will vanish this fall, since they are not heated. The first self-cleaning toilet downtown is expected to go up next year.

Montreal already had public toilets on the street in the 30s, installed by then-mayor Camillien Houde, but these were not the self-cleaning units sought by Ville-Marie.

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