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Letter: New West public commons maintenance is 'sorely lacking'

This letter writer claims there was a "lack of consultation and respect" for residents of 14 Begbie Street.
Rendering showing a permanent free-standing toilet planned for Begbie Street. That's it on the left, beside the tree and greenery.

The Editor:

Re: Freestanding toilet planned for Begbie Street in downtown New West (June 18, 2024)

I live by the metal porta-potty.

I recently learned that we'll soon be given a public bathroom outside our apartment's entrance on Begbie Street. In about 12 months time, residents on their way out of the Interurban Condo will be met by a free-standing, shiny and chrome cabin measuring about 8 by 12 by 16 feet, within which defecation and urination will be possible from sunrise to sunset, all at a cost of $650,000 to New West residents.

We shouldn’t decry the cost, as high as it may seem (but bear in mind, a similar public toilet in Montreal will run their city less than half the cost).

However, what we’re concerned with is the lack of consultation and respect for the residents of 14 Begbie Street. Coun. Paul Minhas appeared to be the only one voicing any concern on our behalf.

It’s not hard to see the fate that awaits us: a stroll around downtown New West will tell you as much.

What of the nauseating, stomach churning smell of New West station? What of the grime and soot that cakes every surface of Columbia station? What of the pitiful dog potty in front of Scotiabank (which coincidentally could have been a potential location for our human porta potty)? 

The maintenance of our public commons is sorely lacking.

The location of the public toilet is puzzling at best. Which factors (terrain slope, sewage pipes) led to the conclusion that the best place for a public toilet is at an apartment’s entrance, at the corner of a soon-to-be very crowded intersection.

The concrete hasn’t even set, yet it’s time to bring in the jackhammer once more.

The residents of 14 Begbie Street don’t own Begbie Street, and this tirade could appear under Webster’s definition of NIMBY.

However, I implore the reader to conjure up a team of workers adorned in hi-vis vests tearing up their sidewalk, installing a permanent porta-potty, and the subsequent maintenance hardly above the one afforded to New West station.

This metal porta-potty will forever be a fixture on your street. In a few months’ time, that’s where you’ll find me. 

- Joseph Kwo, New Westminster