Mobile toilets coming soon to Edmonton arena district

The City of Edmonton is looking for ways to stop people from urinating in public downtown before developing a master plan for public washrooms.

"Obviously there's a need," said Coun. Bev Esslinger Monday. "We can try those portable options before we go to build big facilities."

With the Edmonton Oilers hockey team making the NHL playoffs, a solution is even more urgent, said Esslinger, chair of the community and public services committee.

The number of tickets issued in the city last year for public urination and defecation was 120, down from the 138 issued in 2015, a city report said. 

While fewer tickets were issued, the number handed out in the downtown doubled to 52.

"We've heard it's an issue; we've heard it's a concern," said Rick Daviss, executive director of the downtown arena project.

Smell of urine

Whether the culprits are hockey fans or concert goers is not clear, he said.

"Coun. (Scott) McKeen says he's walked there in the mornings and he's actually smelled it. I think that's an issue that has to be addressed immediately," Daviss said.

Public washrooms in the downtown are necessary not only for people who are homeless but for visitors to the city, McKeen said.

Adding a public washroom on Whyte Avenue has made a huge difference, said Mayor Don Iveson.

"It's not without challenges to have these facilities but the alternative, just leaving people to do their business on the street, particularly vulnerable people, is also unacceptable," said Iveson.

A pilot project proposes to bring in trailers with washrooms, rather than use portable toilets, in seven locations including around Rogers Place.

There is no cost suggested for this pilot but the understanding is that it should fit into the existing budget, McKeen said.