Tuesday, 13 September 2016

More Public Toilets Needed For Tourists

A list of urgent toilet upgrades for Canterbury includes loos in Culverden that are so freezing in winter, cleaners have to defrost them to do their job.

A wish list from the Canterbury Mayoral Forum shows the region needs 58 new or upgraded toilet facilities to cope with growing numbers of tourists and freedom campers.

A letter from the forum to the Government sent in June said "inappropriate toileting" left popular tourist spots littered with human excrement and toilet paper, and it named six locations at Kaikoura, Tekapo, and Culverden that urgently required new facilities before next summer.

Later that month the forum sent another letter adding Akaroa to the list of places caught short by the lack of toilets and dump stations.

The Waitaki District needed the most new builds or upgrades - 17 in all - partly because of the growing number of cyclists on the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Prices for the all proposed toilet facilities - including some 20 new blocks - were deleted from the letter obtained under the Official Information Act, but it used the word "million" when referring to the total cost.

Mayoral Forum chair Dame Margaret Bazley said releasing costings would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of councils going out for tender if they were successful in getting Government assistance from this year's $3 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

A report accompanying the forum letter said on very cold winter days in Culverden patrons complained of frozen floors and toilet bowls which had to be defrosted before cleaning.

It also outlined pressure on the Kaikoura Coast with The Store at Kekerengu getting on average 1500 people per day in peak season, with many non-customers stopping to use store toilets outside the cafe.

The Store owner Sank McFarlane said the local council had declined his application for financial help to cover maintenance and cleaning costs of more than $10,000 annually.

"They are an absolute nightmare … Every time we have to get a plumber from Blenheim its $1000 by the time we've paid mileage."

At Coes Ford in the Selwyn District the forum report said public toilets designed for 50 people a night were servicing up to 250 vehicles per night.

Sewage tanks built to be emptied every six months had to be done twice a week, with portaloos brought in over peak periods.

The normal summer cleaning schedule was extended into autumn to cope with increased freedom campers, most of whom were not in self contained vehicles.

And latest tourist figures suggest there is potential for the problem to occur year round, rather than just in peak season. Statistics for July show that international guest nights for July were up almost 16 per cent compared with last year.