Prince Rupert City Council will apply for $200,000 in grant funding to cover the cost of a public washroom facility, like the Portland Loo, to be installed in the downtown area. (Photo courtesy Portland Loo)

Prince Rupert City Council will apply for $200,000 in grant funding to cover the cost of a public washroom facility, like the Portland Loo, to be installed in the downtown area. (Photo courtesy Portland Loo)

$200,000 for public washroom facility

Prince Rupert City Council to apply for restroom funding to assist the vulnerable population

The public and merchants of Prince Rupert may find a little relief with the installation of a 24-hour stand-alone public washroom facility for which the City of Prince Rupert will apply for $200,000 in funding to complete.

The funding application grant will be made to the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society (PRACS). The society receives funding from the federal government through its investment allocation to the city by way of the Reaching Home: Canada’s Homeless Strategy, Corinne Bomben chief financial officer for the City of Prince Rupert told the city council at its regular meeting on Feb. 8.

“This particular funding stream is intended to help communities extend their response to COVID-19 and its impact on the homeless,” she said.

Bomben said that the PRACS believe a stand-alone washroom is an appropriate response to aide the homeless with basic hygiene facilities to assist in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Assisting the most vulnerable in obtaining basic hygiene during the COVID-19 19 pandemic provides an opportunity to help our entire community do as much as possible to stop the spread of the virus,” Bomben said. “Beyond that, making available a facility that gives those who most need it, including the general public, a dignified space to utilize restroom facilities as a compassionate service to offer and will hopefully help all those impacted.”

The washrooms would encompass certain safety characteristics and would be easy care for maintenance staff. Maintaining the unit is estimated to be mid-range of $30,000 per year based on feedback from other B.C. municipalities who have similar facilities.

“Should there be no new sources of revenue to offset this operating cost it is presently calculated that this increase in service would result in a 0.15 per cent property tax increase if the service was in place from the beginning of the year,” Bomben said.

As the service will not be in place for a full year, only half of the estimated budget would be included in the 2021 fiscal year, with the other half in 2022, Bomben said.

Councillor Barry Cunnigham said the public washroom facilities are long overdue and many businesses and residents have complained about the lack of public facilities available and the effects it has on the downtown businesses.

It will provide a service not just to the vulnerable, but to shoppers and tourists downtown as many retailers and businesses do not permit the public to use private restrooms, Cunnigham said.

“And as far as funding for maintenance – I know the Port has agreed to fund the first-year maintenance to it from what I understand and Community Futures is looking to find funding for it too,” Cunnigham said.

“I think it’s a win-win with the initial capital of almost a quarter of a million dollars being given to the city for this for nothing. I think that’s a great idea,” Cunningham said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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