street urinals in Guelph?

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Maysie Maysie's picture

Thanks for the additional info, triciamarie. I've been confused as to why this is being treated so gently, with so much angst from the official places. I was wondering why all the pussy-footing around the issue, from the official standpoint perspective. It helps to understand the context. Now I understand.

This isn't about urinals for homeless men to use. Politically that's a no brainer, since advocating for any services for homeless men isn't initiated by politicians, unless it's draconian and punishment-based. 

This also isn't for the "grown-up" bar crowd. Sorry for that language, but I can think of no other way to say it. Adults who go to bars and drink don't seem to have problems with finding appropriate facilities. At least, the adults I know.

It's about the university crowd, specifically young men who are the next generation of the ruling class. Now that's a politically dangerous demographic for a politician to criticize openly or directly. Nobody is saying "Those damn U of Moo boys are peeing all over downtown! Fine them!"

I don't think so.

University and college students bring money into the local economy for 8 months of the year. Many university cities see them as both desirable and undesirable for those reasons. Only males who are rich or soon-to-be-university-graduates deserve such back and forth.

bush is gone, peeing in public raises health and safety concerns for people other than the pisser. This isn't comparable at all to breastfeeding.


Exactly.  I'm just sort of shocked that someone could compare breastfeeding to peeing in public.  Like, seriously, what?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

There should be more public toilets, period. I don't see the problem with public urinals at all, actually, as long as there are appropriate female facilities as well. In fact, I think that the disappearance of public toilets is a feminist issue: partly because women require them more often than men, and partly because it is male irresponsibility that is prompting their disappearance. Anyway, the Parisiens already thought of a solution 30 years ago, and here it is:

Dana Larsen

Can the idea of street urinals. Instead arrest and heavily fine the whiz kids, or with habitual offenders, deprive them of their liberty for awhile, both for urinating in public and for indecent public exposure. Fine the establishments that permit this behaviour to 'spill' out from their businesses onto adjacent sidewalks in front of the public, and threaten to remove the licences from those bars that do not make every attempt to discourage it by cutting off access to patrons who do this. The problem should be solved in a matter of weeks. Why cater to gross indecency on the part of drunken men who insist on using the public thoroughfares as a toilet.

As is often the case, punishing people like this would be much more expensive and difficult than just building decent public urinals.

Do you really want a cop in every alley, waiting for someone to try and pee?

To arrest, try and incarcerate someone is very expensive! We should let our cops and courts focus on real crimes, not add something new to their list of jobs whenever there's something we don't like.

The urinals they are proposing in Guelph sound like men-only facilities. That seems strange to me. Women need to pee too! I think it would be better to spend a little more money to build a decent public toilet.

Dana Larsen

After thinking about this a while, it seems to me that this here is the real problem:

Bar owners have refused to keep their own facilities open longer, or move last call earlier, and local restaurants all remove their tables and barricade their washrooms for evening service.

Perhaps a by-law that forced bars and restaurants to allow their patrons to use their washrooms for a certain amount of time after last call might be a better way to go? Doesn't it make sense that the bar which is filling people up with fluids also provide folks a place to release those fluids?

After suggesting they try to build better street toilets, I came across the sad story of Seattle's expensive self-cleaning toilets, which ended up for sale on eBay after millions of dollars in expenses:

Snert Snert's picture

Doesn't it make sense that the bar which is filling people up with fluids also provide folks a place to release those fluids?


That kind of assumes everyone wants to hang around after last call, waiting for their bladder to fill up. Who the hell is going to sit there in a bar, when the lights are on, the music is off, the servers are wiping tables and you can't have a drink? You want to hang out for another half hour?


I think that no matter how you cut it, if people are chugging the remains of their pitcher, regardless of what time last call is, they're going to leave, and if they don't go straight home, they'll need to use the facilities, or a bush, or something.


I propose holes in the ground with privacy fences around them. That, and/or steep fines. If you're a University student out for a night of drinking, you don't need to be a math major to figure out that a $500 fine represents about 40 pitchers of beer that you won't be drinking.


The kids would stick around the bars if they kept the lights off and music on. Lots of them are ordering like five shots at last call, so that tides them over for a good long while.


The bars are beyond reluctant to keep their doors open much after last call. The City says that bar licenses are regulated through the Liquor License Control Board so they say there is nothing they can do to force them. The police are putting up a major fight about any kind of enclosed facility or anything else (like even out-of-the-way urinals) that might provide a hidden area for "nefarious activities". Since the committee of downtown stakeholders is largely composed of people who rely on police (to whatever flexible degree) more than they should have to, three nights a week, eight months a year, the committee and council won't say boo against their wishes.

For years I have been promoting the idea of private security guards, paid for by the bars and restaurants downtown, to take care of all the nuisance problems like this downtown on weekends. That's what the city of Hull (now Aylmer) Quebec did when i used to live across the river in Ottawa and it took care of the problem in a fast hurry. Fortunately the Trib newspaper seems to be onside with that now, judging from their last editorial -- that's good, the Police Chief can go at their throat this time instead of me.


I received an email from the City Solicitor yesterday saying that the urinals motion was passed by Council on Monday and thanking me for my input. I was not able to attend the Council meeting so I don't know all the terms, but apparently there will be two urinals on the major bar street (right around the corner from city hall, two short blocks from the proposed new transit terminal) for two months starting September 1st.

Contrary to predictions, urinals were not the lead issue in newspaper coverage because there is a large occupation happening of some contentious development lands owned by the city, and that, appropriately, was the front page news.

From the little information available it seems that there was some pretty smelly stuff going on with the budget this week as the City is cashing in a big promissory note from the municipal hydro distributor as well as taking on some pretty substantial debt to finance capital projects. (Part of that has to do with the fact that Guelph is one of the areas identified as a major growth area by the province so there are a lot of expensive infrastructure outlays required up front, some of which will be recouped later as the population and industry increases.)

I think my objective at this stage will be to do my part to try to ensure that accessible toilets for women, children and the disabled are also provided, over the short and long term. This means enclosed facilities, and as the police here are so strongly against that, council will need something solid to go on to override police objections.

I suspect that there is enough public distaste about the urinals, on all sides, that once indoor facilities are available, it may still be possible to get these "pissoirs" removed. That's what they're calling them -- guess it sounds classier in French?

I will call the Human Rights Tribunal again this week and find out what I need to do to prepare the complaint so I can submit it on September 1.


The Human Rights Tribunal Legal Support Centre was not of very much assistance, but I have managed to line up some support from a fellow (former?) babbler! He will do a review of the caselaw, coach me on arguments and procedures for self-representation at the HRT, and/or give me the benefit of his extensive activism experience in deciding whether to pursue other political or legal avenues. He's giving me a really good rate.

I also put a call in this week to LEAF, the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, regarding a constitutional question. I want to know the status of Canadian HRT's ability and willingness to hear and decide on alleged Charter breaches that are intrinsically related to the human rights matters before them. I heard back from LEAF yesterday and they are forwarding my inquiry to their director of litigation. I gave her a brief rundown on the facts as well, as background.

I called the Tribunal with the same question on Wednesday and left a message for counsel but haven't received any response.

Meanwhile, in the Tribune last night I was immensely pleased to see that the city's administrator is stating unequivocally that the pissoirs being used for the pilot project will be rented and they will be returned at the end of the two months. Any permanent facilities will not employ this type of equipment which can be used only by able-bodied men. Furthermore, the urinals will be placed in discreet locations for the duration of the pilot project, one in an alleyway and another in a parking lot.

That is certainly positive news and I sure hope they carry through with that plan, but this is not the response I received from council or the city solicitor; the project administrator is not the final decision-maker on this; and the Chair of the Downtown BIA said in the same article that they have no idea what kind of facility would replace the urinals, if the pilot project is deemed successful, based only on volume of urine collected and the number of public urination complaints received during this period. In the Mercury article earlier this week they said that the location of the urinals is being discussed with property-owners. They will be screened, but only partially, and with lattice.

bush is gone ha...


 bush is gone, peeing in public raises health and safety concerns for people other than the pisser. This isn't comparable at all to breastfeeding.


where did I mention breast feeding?   I am of the opinion that those port-a-potties in Winnipeg kept those urine puddles from forming.  Did you even comprehend what I was saying in post #48 in response to post #47 and 40?


bush is gone, I think Maysie actually meant to respond to The Bish.

Personally I love your idea and I think it could very well have some application here. If Guelph is going to use open urinals, well, there is a big open space in front of our new City Hall, just around the corner from the bar district. Put the urinals there, I say, and let council and staff establish first-hand just how effective and inoffensive this solution really is.