The farce that is the plan to build new and much needed public toilets in Fitzroy and nearby areas in the City of Yarra continues to provide amusement and frustration in equal measure. The City of Yarra spends years ignoring the issue, then announced a ludicrously impractical alternative to outsource the provision of public toilets to private businesses, before accepting responsibility for fixing the issue and nominating potential locations: 3 were listed in May 2009.
In May 2010 the Westgarth St location was rejected due to complaints from neighbours including the Firefighters Credit Union. They provided no evidence to support their subjective and irrational belief that undesirable people would loiter around the toilet.
The toilets are planned to look the same as the existing one on the corner of Kerr St and Smith St. Yes, it’s big round and shiny but it is easy to find for visitors, is self cleaning and is used a lot. Anyone walking by on the weekend seeing all the shoppers visiting the discount sports clothing shops in the area will have seen it being used, and sometimes there’s even a queue to use it.
I’ve passed by more times than I can remember at all times of the day or night and I have never seen people hanging around it causing trouble. The idea that a public toilet is something that draws vandals, criminals or troublemakers is without foundation. I’ve never seen any evidence of problems associated with the Kerr St toilet. If there is a problem, show me the evidence!
So the recent article in the Melbourne Leader that the proposed toilet on Michael St North Fitzroy (near the corner of Queens Parade) was being challenged by NIMBY residents annoyed me greatly. The residents do have a point though. The Council should know better than to introduce a modern design into a heritage overlay area.
Putting a faux heritage facade over the silver spaceship is a reasonable idea. If anyone on Council had any brains they would have thought of that themselves and used it as a way of promoting the proposal. And the Council bureaucrats making the site choices and planning decisions appear to be failing in their duties too. But then Council does seem to be a sheltered workshop for mediocre minds.
The good news is that this toilet may actually be built. I’ll believe it when I see it…