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Relief sought for Canada Line toilet troubles

Thousands of commuters use the Richmond-Brighouse Station each day, but a public washroom isn’t nearby.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Thousands of commuters use the Richmond-Brighouse Station each day, but a public washroom isn’t nearby.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Relief could be in sight for those looking for a loo after civic politicians took steps Wednesday to flush away toilet troubles for Canada Line commuters and RVers.

Public washrooms aren’t available at Canada Line stations, a frustration for commuters that’s shared by recreational vehicle owners who can’t find a sanitary dump in city limits. Now the stink has reached city hall.

Council’s public works and transportation committee urged TransLink this week to reconsider its opposition to public restrooms at transit stations. Councillors also gave staff approval to find a private operator willing to offer a sanitary dump service in Richmond.

That’s music to ears of avid RVer Lisa Nowak, who has long urged the city to quit stalling and offer a service that local private operators have since stopped.

“It would be really worth our while to get something in Richmond,” she said. “We’ve got RVs all around.”

Sanitary dump facilities offered by Shell at Garden City and Lansdowne roads, and by Tourism Richmond at the tunnel, both closed in 2009, according to a staff report. Sewage dumps nearest to Richmond are in North Burnaby and Tsawwassen.

The city is hoping to find a private operator willing to own and operate such a facility—in exchange for $10,000 from the city to help with utility installation.

“I think it’s worth trying first,” said Coun. Linda Barnes. “Hopefully we can get something moving.”

As for public washrooms in downtown Richmond, seniors advocate Hans Havas suggested the city install its own washrooms if TransLink doesn’t budge.

“It’s a long haul for a lot of people,” he said. “You cannot always access the washrooms in the mall.”

Havas suggested Richmond could follow Vancouver, which has eight automated public toilets in its downtown that are automatically cleaned and sanitized after each use.

“We really can’t wait for the future. I’m wondering if it’s possible that maybe the city work as a pilot project to put a freestanding (washroom)…in that general vicinity.”

Victor Wei, transportation director for the City of Richmond, told councillors that TransLink has rejected a city proposal for a pilot project to provide special public access to staff washrooms at Richmond-Brighouse Station. Wei said TransLink officials cited maintenance costs and a lack of policy in providing public access to its facilities.

“This is something that TransLink has never addressed in terms of the use of washrooms along their rapid transit lines,” said Wei.

There’s a possibility that redevelopment around the Richmond-Brighouse Station could make public washrooms a reality. Wei said TransLink’s long-term plans include a bus mall on the Scotiabank site, but that facility could be as many as five years away, because a new building that would house the bank must be built first.

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