The Town is moving forward with plans to winterize the public bathrooms in Centennial Park.
At the recent meeting of council, a plan was approved to winterize the washroom by removing the lift station pumps in October and reinstall them every June. The existing wet well chamber will then be converted into a seasonal septic tank.
According to Kevin Gannon, environmental services manager, the Town has experienced some hurdles while exploring options to covert the washroom into a four season facility.
He said the current design of the building is strictly for seasonal use, from spring until early fall.
“…The blue prints for the facility are very good, however the actual blue prints for documentation for the tank and the pumping system have not been found. So we had to do some pretty extravagant exploration,” Gannon said.
Exploring the existing infrastructure of the washroom facility, Gannon said the public works team found it has been designed specifically for the summer season.
“The sanitary line connecting the washroom to the sanitary main on Lakeshore Drive, is very shallow and small diameter pipe which is susceptible to freezing during winter temperatures and further lowering of the service connection is not possible as sanitary main on Lakeshore Drive is not sufficiently deep.”
Gannon said making the washrooms in Centennial Park accessible to the public in the colder months would involve moving the tank closer to Lakeshore Drive and redoing the infrastructure with deeper utilities.
These changes would involve impacts to the parking lot and the green spaces around the bathroom.
“We felt we had to look outside the box and find a different solution,” Gannon said.
The solution found by the public works team was to remove the lift station pumps and convert the wet well into a seasonal septic tank in October each year.
Gannon explained this would essentially make the washrooms a seasonal port-a-potty.
“…It just involves putting some level sensors in there to let us know when the level is too high, and we can go in there and have a vac truck remove the waste from that tank,” he said.
He added users will not notice a difference between the summer and winter use of the bathroom. There will be no “usual port-a-potty smell” associated as it will be well monitored, Gannon said.
Gannon says the option of winterizing the bathrooms approved by council comes with a one time price tag of $8,500 for the equipment, and a yearly monitoring and operational cost of $3,000.
The equipment cost includes the installation of a heat trace, which will help to heat the wash room facility in the winter.
However, Gannon says the facility will not be as warm as a normal building. This is because huge changes to the temperature of the pipes and infrastructure could have adverse affects, such as pipes bursting.
To relocate the tank and creating deeper utility lines, the cost is estimated to be $151,000.
This plan does not have any foreseen environmental impacts, according to Gannon. With consultation with engineers, the Town believes this to be the best option for year-round use of the washrooms with an impact to the lake or surrounding park.