A yearslong discussion on washrooms at Huntsville’s River Mill Park may finally be at an end.
Councillors gave staff permission to purchase a permanent two-unit facility, at their last Regular Council meeting before the municipal election.
Tarmo Uukkivi, the town’s Director of Operations and Protective Services, says the washrooms would be available year-round, located between the playground and band shell at the north end of the parking lot.
According to Uukkivi, it’s a high-tech model commonly used in Europe, which comes pre-built, and would simply need to be crane-lifted onto a concrete slab in the park and connected.
“This is a fully automated washroom self-cleaning washroom, that has germ resistance sprayed right on all the surfaces inside,” says Uukkivi. “It’s got electronic monitoring 24/7 of things like toilet paper levels, paper towel levels, cleanliness.”
The town previously leased washroom space from the Coldwell Banker Thompson building on West St., with that agreement now expired. Uukkivi says persistent vandalism lead to the washrooms being frequently closed for repairs, making it a chief concern in council discussions on the matter since at least 2017.
Uukkivi says the alarm and speaker safety system used to warn people of the self-cleaning process can also be used to deter would-be vandals. Town staff can play a pre-recorded message, or speak directly to the person inside if bad behaviour is detected.
“[They’re] resistant to graffiti, easy to clean if they are graffitied, and with the electronic monitoring there is very little that can be damaged on the inside with the way they are built,” says Uukkivi. “That’s not to say vandalism will not occur, but certainly it’ll be a deterrent, and hopefully decrease the frequency with which the washrooms aren’t available due to vandalism.”
Earlier this year, town council voted against proposals to install porta potties at River Mill Park, or repurpose the Kent Park kiosk as a washroom.
According to Uukkivi, town representatives discovered the unit at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in August.
He says the current quote is $290,000, plus tax and installation, although they are waiting on a quote from another manufacturer. That will be covered by an anonymous donor who pledged $300,000 to cover the project in July.
Uukkivi says they hope to install the facility in the spring of 2023, in time for the summer season at the latest.