It’s not exactly what they wanted, but Victoria city council has agreed to stick to its $215,000 budget to construct a public washroom next to Centennial Square by the summer.
The original budget to update the washrooms was $125,000, but last May a number of issues were identified with the structural integrity of the existing interior walls after site work began, forcing renovations to grind to a halt. A large amount of supporting infrastructure, which was intended to be retained, needed to be removed, resulting in a significant increase in the scope and cost to complete the project.
Since then, officials have worked with the architect and consultants to review the proposed design, which now calls for two spaces, identified as male and female, each with private accessible stalls and fixtures, along with a security booth.
After seeing the proposed design on Thursday, however, several councillors questioned whether staff had given consideration to gender neutral washrooms. Coun. Ben Isitt wanted to send the matter back to staff to come up with a revised design and cost estimate that includes a single stall for a universal washroom, but staff noted they’ve already explored that option, which would push the cost well beyond $215,000.
Mayor Lisa Helps pointed out City Hall already has a gender neutral washroom that’s open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and portable toilets are brought in during special events outside of those hours.
“In a perfect world we’d have all the money in the world and we could build a beautiful washroom that is gender neutral. When we start to redevelop other facilities, that’s the direction we’ll go,” said Helps. “But I think at this stage this is a direction I am happy to support.”
Updating the washrooms is part of the development of a master plan for the revitalization of Centennial Square. The plan also proposes the addition of a children’s play feature, while the long-term plan looks at the future of the fountain, a new wood carving space, and new permanent recreational equipment.