Residents want public toilets in Breaker Bay

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 11:05 17/07/2014
A map of public toilets
LONG WAY: A map showing the council's toilet signs on the south coast and the nearest public toilets, in Seatoun and Strathmore.

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The Wellingtonian

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Rather than seeing red, Breaker Bay residents are seeing brown.

Wellington's raw sewage used to be pumped into the sea between the south-coast bay and Moa Point.

Angry residents formed the Clean Water Campaign, which stopped the outflow in 1998.

The Moa Point treatment plant was built and since then the sea has cleaned up.

The area is a favourite of humans and wildlife alike.

But there is a new problem.

The Breaker Bay and Moa Point Progressive Association said visitors to the area were defecating on the beach or in the bush because there was no public toilet.

Chairman Allan Jenkins said the residents had been trying to get a public toilet installed for 10 years.

"We have been disappointed by the lack of response to our request," he said.

"It took us 15 years to convince Wellington City Council that having shit washing up on our beaches was wrong. Now we have shit up above the beaches on our parks and gardens.

"The residents have been fobbed off on this issue and are very angry that an historic site for both Maori and Pakeha [Ataturk Park] is being desecrated by human waste.

"We have cleaned it up ourselves and have even had to allow visitors to the park to use our private toilets.

"If the council can't see the need for a loo here, then all it proves is that they don't even look carefully at their own parks."

Council parks, sport and recreation manager Paul Andrews said the council had assessed the area and concluded that there was no need for a public toilet.

"The conclusion of the report was that there was insufficient evidence to suggest there is a need for a public toilet in the area," he said.

"There is not enough demand and most users who visit the area are there for less than an hour. The residents have been advised on more than one occasion of our position on this request.

"We do receive requests for toilets in various locations around the city and all these requests are assessed on a similar basis."

Jenkins said the report was outdated because user numbers had increased after the sewage was cleaned up.

The closest public toilets are in Seatoun or Strathmore. A sign in the Tarakena Bay Boat ramp area of Breaker Bay shows those toilets are more than three kilometres away - about a 40-minute walk.

The council argued that most visitors to the area were there in cars, so would be able to drive to the nearest public toilets.

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But the signs just show the direction the toilet is in, not the actual location.

"It's ridiculous to ask people in dire need to drive more than three kilometres to a toilet. Those signs just convince people that they'll have to defecate on the park," Jenkins said.

Andrews said the cost of a permanent toilet would be between $150,000 and $250,000, plus maintenance.

"That's the reality of building a public toilet that will last at least 30 years and meet all requirements for accessibility."

What about temporary options?

"A temporary toilet would have to meet our required level of accessibility, meaning that the cost of putting one in for the summer, as has been suggested by Breaker Bay locals, is just too expensive to justify for the level of use it would get," he said.

Jenkins disagreed and said there were locals who would be willing to fund it.

"The council figures are a worst case scenario for a custom-built facility. We were happy for a DoC Park type or temporary loo for summer," he said.

"We have locals who are happy to contribute. I can't believe that the temporary toilets we need are going to be that costly."

Jenkins said temporary toilets were often installed at Ataturk Park around Anzac Day.

Andrews said if there was a need for a toilet, the council would build one, but there was no need.

- The Wellingtonian

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