Crs furore over public toilets

PUBLIC toilets caused an explosion of irritation from Coffs Harbour city councillors at Thursday’s council meeting.

The councillors were considering a staff report on the maintenance, renewal and disposal of public toilets.

The report was prepared in response to a request by Cr Rodney Degens and Cr John Arkan at the council’s March 24 meeting.

The councillors had asked for a report on the possibilities of replacing the public toilets in the council car park in Park Avenue with self-cleaning and graffiti-resistant models and adding baby change tables.

The report presented on Thursday was much more wide-ranging and covered the council’s 43 public toilet blocks and the $4.23 million required to refurbish and replace them over the next 10 years. The report poured cold water on the idea of retro-fitting the Park Avenue toilets with the self-cleaning models and said a better and cheaper alternative would be to gut and rebuild the existing facilities at an estimated cost of $200,000.

The councillors refused to approve the recommended demolition of two toilet blocks at Bayldon Rd and Mick’s Retreat at Sawtell but agreed to consider an increase in its annual capital funding allocation for refurbishing and upgrading of its public toilets, 17 of which are more than 40 years old and at least one, in Coffs Harbour’s Beryl St, is more than 50 years old.

The cost of replacement for aging toilet blocks varied from $300,000 to $450,000.

Cr Kerry Hines said she could not understand why building public toilets put such a hole in the budget.

“The state of our toilets is disquieting,” Cr Hines said.

“I have no argument with that but I can’t understand why it costs $350,000 to build a toilet.

“I can build a very flash house for $400,000. Don’t we have the skills to project manage the refurbishment and replacement of toilet blocks ourselves?”

The mayor said he could not understand why the council could not be more on the front foot when it came to relieving the deficiency of dubious local public dunnies.

“I can’t accept that we don’t come back with something a bit more pro-active,” the mayor said.

“Coffs Harbour is one of the best tourism locales and some of the letters I have had in the past 12 months are from tourists who write in criticism of our tourist facilities. The Riding Lane public amenities need to be bulldozed and something modern put in its place.”

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