More than a year after a new washroom was approved, the park board can’t say when it will be installed in Nelson Park.
The board had expected to install a self-cleaning washroom in the park near St. Paul’s Hospital last fall.
But when the board learned the city only had available a single-stall that was not a wheelchair-accessible, it ordered one from the manufacturer in France. Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper said CBS/JCDecaux had to construct the unit from scratch.
“Whether it’s recreational facilities or bathroom facilities, accessibility is an important thing,” Jasper said. “If we had gone and put a regular washroom in, it would have been quite disrespectful to those who do have challenges… Just from a practical perspective, if we had said OK, let’s put it in for now, at some point they would have said we’ve already given you [one] and no, we’re not going to give you another one.”
When he asked staff in February or March for an update, Jasper said he was told that “they were cautiously optimistic that they could have it installed this summer.”
But when he called park staff to check the washroom’s whereabouts Wednesday afternoon in response to inquiries from the Courier, Jasper learned of a new wrinkle: the park was plumbed for a washroom during its redesign in 2007 but only a sewage line was installed. City engineering now requires separate storm water drains and sewage lines. Jasper believes the design will be complicated by the grade of the future washroom site on the southeast edge of the dog park. “Our staff is trying to keep this a top priority with engineering staff,” Jasper said.
Funding the work won’t be a problem because money for washroom upgrades was earmarked in the city’s capital plan, he added.
Jasper along with Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, who contacted the Courier this week about the ongoing wait for a washroom in the park, have pushed the issue of a toilet-less Nelson Park for at least five years.
The former field house and its washrooms were demolished with the redevelopment of the park in 2007 despite opposition from the West End Residents Association, with which Jasper was involved.
The parent advisory council for the adjacent kindergarten to Grade 3 school had complained about the sale and use of drugs in the bathrooms, according to Herbert and a park board staff in 2007.
Jasper was pleased when the park board decided last year to have international company CBS/JCDecaux install an automated bathroom at little cost in exchange for advertising. Advertisements will be posted in two other locations but not in the park.
Herbert noted the city and CBS/JCDecaux installed a self-cleaning washroom nearby at Davie and Bute streets last fall. But after noticing that it always appeared to be occupied and talking with local business owners, he learned BC Hydro hadn’t “flipped the switch” to make it operational. It was finally turned on a month ago.