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Burnaby park washrooms to go from porta potty to permanent

Burnaby plans to replace porta potties in city parks.

Burnaby wants to convert the temporary porta potty washrooms in city parks into permanent facilities – with some that could even be self-cleaning.

A new report lays out the state of park loos around the city, after council asked staff last year to look for ways to create year-round washroom access in parks.

The city says porta potties are currently used in parks where summer recreation programs are offered, or where parks are in high demand.

“In general, all of the major and destination parks in Burnaby have permanent washrooms and most neighbourhood parks do not,” staff wrote in the report to the parks commission.

Burnaby has washrooms in 85 of its 166 parks: 44 are permanent washrooms; 38 sites have porta potties; and three have “precast vault systems” which are simple permanent washrooms where service hook-up is either too expensive or not possible (staff also said the precast vaults have a “foul odour.”)

The city says it costs about $3.5 million each year to operate both permanent and temporary washrooms in parks.

The porta potties are the cheapest option, but they’re “not always accessible” and not open on a consistent basis. Staff called them the “lowest level of service,” despite the price and quick installation.

Self-cleaning toilets

There’s a new type of washroom on the block too.

Staff are exploring a new kind of automatic self-cleaning washroom now available on the market and are planning to pilot one this year.

The self-cleaning washrooms would reduce ongoing operating costs, according to staff.

They also have programmable access hours, so their opening hours can be changed remotely, as well as a “programmable self-cleaning floor.”

“Each toilet is self-contained, and following each use, is automatically cleaned, disinfected,” states the report, adding the self-cleaning toilets are in use in Vancouver, Seattle and many other locations around North America and abroad.

Staff noted the self-cleaning technology is “relatively new” and there could be “unknown durability and technical issues.”

The pilot program for self-cleaning toilets will inform a larger, comprehensive plan for park washrooms that will come next year.

Staff told the parks and recreation committee in the report they expect “significant costs” to converting the porta potties into permanent facilities, but they also see it as an opportunity to add storage space for cleaning equipment, rec programs, showers, “satellite technology control hub spaces that house components for automation irrigation systems,” spray pad controllers, hydro services for park lighting and a connection area for fiber optic services.

Different types and costs of park washrooms:

  • porta potties (temporary): $0 capital costs, $1,200 operating costs
  • small pre-cast (permanent, one stall): $52,000 capital costs; $42,000 operating
  • custom design, medium size (permanent, three stalls): $831,000 capital costs; $76,000 operating
  • custom design, large size (permanent, five stalls and satellite shop): $1.4 million capital costs, $96,000 operating
  • self-cleaning (permanent, single stall): $439,000 capital costs, $37,000 operating
  • self-cleaning (permanent, double stalls): $573,000 capital costs, $48,000 operating