Photo by: Juan Marin on Unsplash
Two weeks ago, St. Catharines’ first self-cleaning public washroom was lowered onto a patch of land located in between Geneva, Queenston, Niagara and St. Paul streets.
Self-cleaning toilets, already a popular feature in various European cities, are becoming increasingly apparent throughout North America. The amenities are typically equipped with a sink and a toilet which self-cleans after each use.
The washrooms are equipped with timers and weight sensors, which allow efficient cleaning to take place following a person’s visit. The cleaning process typically takes anywhere from 40 seconds to two minutes, allowing its following visitor to meet a pristine space ready for use.
Back in 2021, St. Catharines’ city council first approved the installation of a self-cleaning automated public toilet, notably in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, multiple public restrooms have become less accessible, causing a severe strain on homeless individuals who require access to these public facilities.
Following the decision to install additional public washrooms, the city council allocated $500,000 toward downtown washrooms. Following this, a decision was made that an automated public toilet was an ideal option which would equate to the lowest estimated operating costs, despite its high costs at the outset.
Although the self-cleaning facility has been placed in its permanent location, installation is still under works.
According to project manager Vince Corvatta, the expectation is that workers will not have to perform cleanings, however checkings of the washroom will be completed from time to time. He also detailed that the new facility will consist of jets mounted along the perimeter of the floor closest to the wall, allowing for efficient jet spray during cleaning cycles. The water released into the service room will then be drained into the public sanitary system.
The 6.3 by 3.6 metres washroom was made by Urben Blu, a company based in Quebec. Their design allows for the city to program specific preferences into the facility, such as the length an individual is allowed to use the room, its hours of operation and its frequency of cleaning.
The selected location for the facility was strategically placed in an area with a limited amount of activity. Despite this, the location remains in a prominent section of the city which will be noticeable to many pedestrians; the room is located near vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as well as in close proximity to a St. Catharines fire station.
Although preparation is still taking place, the new facility is expected to be up and running by the end of the month.