12 January 2011

Toronto Public Toilet

This blog has touched on the public toilet problem a few times. Necessary facilities like this are important if you want your parks, streets and transit to be successful. The private businesses cannot always provide this service to the public, and the city park toilets are often closed, unusable, unsanitary or unsafe; and both private and public toilets have limited hours. Twenty-some years ago, I was in Paris and saw self cleaning public toilets that cost the equivalent of 25 cents per use. They were located in places with high tourist foot traffic. A quarter century later they have made it to this continent. How long until they make it to the Midwest? Note that in this case, an advertising company installs them in return for 20 years of advertising space:

Toronto’s first automated public toilet is now a top tourist photo destination.

The $400,000 Harbourfront street potty proved so popular since May, “we’ll soon pick the next three locations,” said Kyp Perikleous, manager of the street furniture division of the city’s transportation department.

“It’s quite an attraction,” he said. “There are people standing in front having their photos taken ... some on the inside.”

As of Dec. 17, with 8,200 door-openings — some for diaper-equipped families — Perikleous said the three-metre-square stainless steel bunker-like biffy “exceeds” customer expectations.

It was built 35% larger than those in U.S. and European cities to provide wheelchair access.

“It’s the best I’ve seen,” Leaside resident Dave Darnell said recently.

“And it doesn’t smell,” the 60-year-old globe-trotter said, comparing the Rees Ave.-Queen’s Quay facility to ones in New York, Rome, Paris and Germany.

The 25¢ fee wasn’t intended to leave the supplier flush with cash, Perikleous said.

Instead, the deal with Montreal-based Astral Out-of-Home for up to 20 over 20 years lets it advertise on transit shelters plus 120 city information pillars.

The lone loo was part of a $1-billion contract that includes the former Astral Media Outdoor firm providing waste bins, transit shelters, benches and bike posts.

After 2017, the city will own all 25,000 pieces of street furniture and will consider more pay-to-pee permanent potties.

Sensors keep officials privy to the potty’s popularity.

The coin slot will accept anything up to a Twonie, but doesn’t make change.

The door operates automatically, Perikleous said, toilet paper supplies remain constant, air is vented in summer, warmed in winter, and patrons receive audible warnings. Lights flash before the door pops opens after 20 minutes.

There is even soft music and an emergency escape hatch.

When vacated at the push of a button, the toilet seat retracts for heat mist cleaning, and after three uses, water sluices the interior, draining through the porous, non-slip floor.

It malfunctioned once, when the retractor failed in July, Perikleous said.

That “minor glitch” lasted 40 minutes, until repairs were completed.

-Toronto Sun


5chw4r7z said...

We need at least one of these downtown, 4th St preferably.
I'd happily hand out coins for the toilet over spare change.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!