Vernon to close bus loop washrooms overnight after repeated vandalism

'Respect element missing'

Only one public bathroom in Vernon will continue to operate around the clock after dozens of acts of late-night destruction.

Vernon city council passed the staff recommendation Monday that bathroom hours at the bus terminal be reduced to between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Meanwhile, the bathroom at 30th Avenue and 35th Street will remain open 24/7.

Council also asked for better tracking, including the number of times bylaw officers and RCMP were called out, as well as which bathrooms were damaged and when. Staff have been asked for further updates in June and October.

The bathrooms were installed in part to dissuade people from defecating in alleys.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal told council that surrounding businesses are still suffering.

“They still come to work and find surprises on their doorsteps. In fact, one doctor had to put a chain fence around his premise to stop it, and he’s literally a two-minute walk from the public bathroom,” she said.

The city spent $42,000 to repair three downtown public bathrooms last year after 52 acts of vandalism and destruction.

Last year, bylaw services created 85 files related to the downtown washrooms, with reports of people barricading themselves in, drug use, graffiti, and sex acts. Most happened between the last security check at 10 p.m. and the following morning.

“There’s a respect element missing from here,” said Nahal.

Coun. Kelly Fehr said a letter from the Downtown Vernon Association on the issue is “nothing more than discriminating against people in poverty.”

Fehr says he’s been working in social services since 2007.

“A vote to close the washrooms at night sends a clear message that consumers are more important than people in extreme poverty,” he said. “I’m just pleading, please, please do not close the bathrooms down.”

Nahal said she gets annoyed when people use terms like basic human rights.

“It’s not us against them,” she said. “(Are) vandalism, graffiti and fornication basic human rights in a public bathroom? I don’t think so.”

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