COLD LAKE - City of Cold Lake council has opted to postpone a downtown washroom project and will reconsider the potential project during next year’s budget deliberations.
On Feb. 14, a motion to cancel the project for the 2023 budget but bring it back to the table for the following budget, was carried.
Known as the “Downtown Public Washroom” project, about $200,000 had been budgeted for the creation of public washrooms in the downtown area. Delaying the project will free up those funds, allowing them to be redeployed to other projects.
During discussions on the topic, it was noted that many businesses in the downtown area have now adopted policies where people have to ask for a key to access a washroom.
There have also been concerns expressed around potential vandalism that could take place at a public facility.
Coun. Vicky Lefebvre said while she had no issue with putting the project on pause, she did not want to see it cancelled. She was in favour of waiting to see how 2023 would roll out.
Administration also advised council that the possibility of the washrooms being completed this year within the current budget was unlikely.
Councillors reported they had spoken to residents about the potential project, and many residents have noted that if businesses are closed, and there is an event happening downtown, it would be nice to have a washroom facility available.
“Originally approved by council in 2021, the project was recommended by the Cold Lake and District FCSS Advisory Committee and the Economic Development Advisory Committee, with the intent being to provide convenient public washrooms in the downtown core,” according to information from the City of Cold Lake.
The project has been postponed twice as discussions take place over placement, and concerns from the downtown business community.
“We have a lot of projects on the go right now and council felt that having this money parked did not make sense, given the inflation we are seeing and the low chance that the project would be completed this year,” said City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland.
“Council has heard some concerns relating to increased vagrancy around the location and the possibility for vandalism, but we’ve also heard about the need for a public washroom when events are happening. Given the projects we have on our plate and the inflation we are seeing, we voted to free up the money for other uses and revisit this project when we discuss 2024 capital projects.”
The City has several large, multi-year projects taking place, including Lakeshore Drive and the new Public Works Centre. These budgets are being challenged by inflation in the costs of construction.
Council was aware that pausing the project could result in increased costs of building the washrooms, due to inflation.