Elora is getting a $385K public toilet

By Keegan Kozolanka

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Council learned despite a federal grant, the Township of Centre Wellington is going to have to pony up some cash for a first-of-its-kind self-cleaning toilet. 

Earlier in the year, the township received a $208,600 grant from FedDev Ontario for an accessible, universal and self-cleaning public washroom intended to be installed at Hoffer Park behind the township office in Elora. 

An additional $63,900 from the general capital reserve was earmarked to cover the rest of the project for an expected project cost of $272,500. 

However, managing director of community services Pat Newson explained at a Monday afternoon council meeting this is likely not enough due to current market conditions for capital projects. 

“Initial estimates are coming in higher than anticipated for servicing, repairing and restoring the site,” Newson said. 

Although the project can be completed in March 2023, the washroom itself needs to be ordered in 2022 to be eligible for the funding. Newson said staff are asking for an additional $114,000. 

Although it sounds like a lot, Newson said with the grant it would only be a maximum of $177,900 of township money to get a “first-of-its-kind” washroom.

“This is one of the most expensive toilets I’ve ever seen in my life and I know we’re all cringing,” Coun. Steven VanLeeuwen commented before asking what would happen if they cancel the project and go with a more standard washroom. 

Newson said this would make them ineligible for the grant and noted the additional anticipated expenses are from servicing the site rather than the actual washroom which only went up by $10,000. 

Stephen Kitras asked for clarification if it is just for one person which Newson confirmed but noted it’s accessible and gender-neutral. 

Coun. Neil Dunsmore added a self-cleaning unit means potentially saving on staff time who don’t need to clean it. 

Coun. Ian MacRae agreed the washroom is expensive but said he’s received a lot of complaints from those coming from uptown Elora and Salem being unable to find a washroom to use when visiting downtown. And when they do get to the one down the hill, there’s a lineup. 

“This will certainly help alleviate that pressure,” MacRae said. 

Council approved the additional funding for the washroom in a 5-2 vote with Kitras and VanLeeuwen opposed.

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