Thursday, June 25, 2009

Public Peeing and Farmers Market Issues

Urine for a treat: Peeing in Public
To combat the frequent and persistent problem of public urination in the downtown core, the City is experimenting with making it cool for you to pee publicly with the installation of open-air urinals. The proposal submitted to City Council last Monday calls for the urinals to be installed downtown for a test drive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The urinals will be removed the following morning, cleaned, sanitized and replaced the next afternoon for that evening’s bar patrons. Similar urinals have been used throughout Europe, but are a novelty in North America. The idea could be used as part of the Night Life Task Force’s three-part campaign to address public urination.

No matter what you think of the proposal, at least the pilot project won’t be wasting money. The report says that the cost for and maintenance of the urinals comes out to between $700 and $1,200 for the summer. By comparison, Guelph Police say that they’ve issued 131, $240 tickets under the anti-fowling (read: no going to bathroom in public) by-law in the last 12 months. That’s $31,440 put into the city’s money pot by those who can’t save it for the chamber pot.

Naturally, Downtown business are pleased because this might mean they’ll have to spend less time hosing down the stoops, walkways and culverts around their businesses after a busy night at the bars. Of course with the prospect of the city more-or-less sanctioning peeing in public, not everyone is coming out happy with this plan. “It sounds like we're trying to customize the downtown to the bad behaviour,” said Ward 1 Councillour Bob Bell, who’s been a frequent critic of what goes on downtown, which is a part of his ward. "I think we're going completely down the wrong path here."

As to whether or not the project will be a success, I think Greg Mercer made a rather astute observation in his Mercury column “[T]he city could also afford to put out disposal units for all the late-night takeout food that gets dumped on the sidewalks. We could even call them ‘garbage cans’ and ask people to put their trash in them rather than on the ground.”

Mo Rules, Mo Problems for Farmers Market

New rules for the Guelph Farmers Market went into effect this past Monday, and much to the dismay of many market-goers it could mean that their favourite vendor isn’t allowed to sell there anymore. It has to do with new liability insurance rules requiring $2 million in general commercial liability. Many vendors already have their own plans that cover them and meet the new requirements, but this will affect vendors who are at the market on a less frequent or transient basis. Staff apparently looked for low cost solutions for casual vendors, but no good options were found. So now staff can “anticipate some resistance and strained relationships as vendors are impacted” by the new rules and regulations, said a report submitted to the emergency services, community services and operations committee. One bright spot is that many vendors that have operated at the market prior to October 9th, 2008 will be grandfathered in.

Opening Postponed

The City’s grand opening for the New City Hall was postponed last Wednesday in the wake of the death of a grade 9 student killed after a partial wall in a public washroom in the Southend Community Park collapsed last Tuesday. The Grand Opening was supposed to take place this past Saturday. For up-to-date information, head over to my blog at

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