Public loo pressure rising
Business owners in Porirua’s CBD are resorting to locking their toilet doors to keep non-customers from using them, and copping plenty of abuse for their troubles.
The issue of suitable public loos near the city centre is not a new one. There are none in the MegaCentre and the two closest to the canopies are in the North City Shopping Centre and the block on Lyttelton Ave, facing Countdown.
This block has come under constant criticism, however, for being locked occasionally, not cleaned regularly enough, and considered unsafe after dark.
Eric Jones, manager of the Canopy Connection, says no solution seems to be on the horizon.
‘‘We’re aware that there are some people who do not think they are a savoury place to go so they approach retailers and cafes.’’
Mr Jones says members of the public have told him the Lyttelton Ave block is ‘‘scary’’ or is often locked, with i-SITE staff receiving negative feedback about its state. Business owners such as The Dog Box (formerly Kelly’s) and Subway lock their toilets now, while Dynasty Restaurant say the frequency of members of the public asking to use their loo is on the rise.
Mr Jones says something must be done regarding the supply, state and safety perception of public toilets in Porirua’s city centre, given retailers are ‘‘becoming more and more aggravated’’ about being asked to open up their toilets for use by the public.
The Dog Box’s manager Tina Graham says they are getting a dozen people a day asking to use their facilities. They have put up a sign saying they are only for customers and have even built a wall so people are unsure where their loos are.
‘‘We’re getting abused by people and we’ve had a gutsful. It’s been like this for at least six years. People think it’s their right to use our loos, they get really angry when we say no. You feel bad sometimes but it’s not our problem, why should we have to pay for all that toilet paper and soap and extra cleaning?’’
Ms Graham says they have written to Porirua City Council about the toilets issue, but its reply did not properly address it.
‘‘They couldn’t care less. What they should do is do those ones [ Lyttelton Ave] up and supply another one in the city centre.’’
The council’s strategic assets and buildings manager John Gibbs says they are aware the public toilets in the CBD are ‘‘not as pleasant as we would like’’, but outlined work put into them of late. He says $15,000 has been spent inside, which included tiling and new flooring.
‘‘These toilets are cleaned and serviced three times a day, seven days a week, while the complete interior is sanitised twice a week. Graffiti is removed daily.’’
Mr Graham says improved facilities are being considered as part of the $ 14 million city centre revitalisation project.