West End's Nelson Park waits for washroom

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      Park commissioner Aaron Jasper called it “odd” that West End community organizers in his old organization didn’t “pick up the phone” prior to launching a petition to get a long-awaited washroom in Nelson Park.

      “A petition suggests that the board is not taking this seriously,” Jasper, Vision park-board vice-chair and former director with the West End Residents Association, told the Straight by phone. “We are absolutely taking this seriously.”

      Jasper said he can’t “give any guarantees” that the self-cleaning washroom will be operational in the fall, but added: “Staff have relayed to me that they seem to be making headway with the plumbing, they’re making some progress, but there’s still some way to go, but that fall is a realistic target.”

      Over the weekend, WERA president Christine Ackermann tweeted about the need for a washroom at the downtown park, which was redesigned in 2007, located close to St. Paul’s Hospital. To raise awareness, WERA rented a porta-potty for the weekend, which covered the West End Farmers Market that happens every Saturday, adjacent to the park on Comox Street.

      “We ordered it [the porta-potty] on Tuesday, and it was delivered on Friday, and it sat there until Monday [August 20],” Ackermann said. “And it was used by everyone. The vendors in particular, at the farmer’s market were very pleased they had a washroom to use. We’ve got about 500 signatures on it [the petition] in total, but I just spent an hour walking around the farmers market and in the park, talking to residents, and got 100 signatures in one hour. People want it.”

      Park commissioner Sarah Blyth told the Straight, “People want the bathroom as soon as possible, and that’s all of us. It’s just a matter of making it so it works and it works for a long time.”

      Jasper said he knows the issue well. In 2007, in his WERA days, he “pleaded” with the Non-Partisan Association–dominated board not to remove the field house, because it had a washroom already. He added that the new, wheelchair-accessible washroom will comply with new city engineering regulations requiring a separation of sewer from storm drainage.

      The commissioner said the cost of the new facility is around $200,000, but is part of an existing street-furniture contract the City of Vancouver has with private company JCDecaux. Jasper said park board staff told him the cost of a stand-alone, small-scale washroom built from scratch would be between $400,000 and $600,000.

      “Here, we’re just paying for the installation.”




      Aug 22, 2012 at 4:47pm

      Wasn't this supposed to come LONG ago? Like years ago when they redesigned the park?!

      jonny .

      Aug 22, 2012 at 5:40pm

      well, that park stinks already from the dog poop bins, so i guess why not...


      Aug 22, 2012 at 7:58pm

      Keep up the good work, Vancouver bureaucrats - a five year wait and a petition just to get a park loo to replace one that was already there. I guess there's no money it, right? Maybe what Nelson Park really needs is an awesome Cactus Club or Donnelly Pub Syndicate fake Ye Olde Public House. High five!


      Aug 23, 2012 at 10:51am

      What a joke. I'm sick of Ackermann and her friends pretending they represent residents of the West End. She runs the most closed, undemocratic organisation in town while railing against... toilets. Well done.

      W. End

      Aug 23, 2012 at 6:16pm

      I didn't realize it was legal to have a port-potty delivered to a public park without the City's permission. I'm surprised the contractor would have agreed to this. But in any case, the replacement washroom is probably a good idea, even without the publicity stunts.
      It's unfortunate that WERA does not appear to be as outspoken on other issues in the neighbourhood, like large development applications or the destruction of heritage buildings - issues that are of a far greater concern to most West End residents.


      Aug 28, 2012 at 12:00pm

      As a neighbour of Nelson Park I have experienced first hand what not having washrooms actually means. Any convenient garden area or alley or doorway or parking lot can also serve as a temporary bathroom. Seniors, children, pregnant women or anyone with bladder problems find our park less attractive than one with a washroom. Go check out Emery Barnes Park if you want to see a well used public space.... Yes, they have an automated washroom.
      During the last civic campaign we were told by Aaron Jasper and the Vision team that a washroom would be installed in 2-3 months. We are getting closer to a year and are told there are problems and a cost of $200,000??? Rent a Port-Potty, it would be cheaper. How about an environmentally friendly Green washroom ? Or an outhouse.