After nearly a decade of trying to manage public urination in a busy nightclub strip, Australia’s Gold Coast City Council finally hit upon an idea – temporary outdoor urinals. The loos are primarily aimed at drunken men who tend to relieve themselves in front of businesses and in alleyways. But the ingenious solution has sparked disgust among locals, who find the urinals ugly and offensive.
According to councillor Lex Bell, these urinals are the only way to manage the problem of public urination that has plagued Cavill Mall and Orchid Avenue in Surfer’s Paradise, southeastern Queensland. Authorities simply do not have the manpower to fine all the people who urinate in public in these areas and don’t have the authority to arrest them.
“We cannot arrest such people – we don’t have the power, so the thought was if we put urinals in places where the inebriated people have to stagger past, they may well use them. When people are staggering from nightclubs, they won’t seek out public toilets – even if they are there,” he explained.
“We’ve had drunk people urinating in shop fronts, on windows and all over footpaths for a long time now,” he said. “It’s a seasonal issue for us, obviously becoming worse during this time of year. I don’t like the urinals either but they are less offensive than the alternative.”
On December 19, the council erected two blocks of portable loos, which are designed for use by up to three men at a time. Ever since they were installed, the council has come under severe criticism from Gold Coast locals.
“Merry Christmas from Surfers Paradise,” wrote resident Richard Holliday, who took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction. “Disgusting public loos greet millions of visitors and residents. At every level they are grossly wrong.”
“Surely in the 21st century we can come up with better ways of dealing with issues like that,” said Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek.
“Who wants to have a pee while other people can stand around looking at them,” added business owner Russell Murphy, who has been running ‘Odditorium’ in Surfers Paradise for the past 23 years. “I think it will encourage voyeurism.”
“I’m actually in disbelief. I thought when I first saw it that it was some sort of Photoshop joke. It’s unhygienic and visually unappealing,” said Orchid Avenue business owner Craig Duffy. “They should get rid of them immediately before Christmas and New Year. The more
tourists who see that, the more damage will be done to the brand of the Gold Coast.”
Bell also revealed that many people were concerned about the design of the loos. So the council is now having bigger shields installed, which will provide full-length coverage to the body. “The urinals will only be operating between midnight and dawn so during other times they will be locked so people can’t use them,” Bell added. The smell of urine around the urinals also sparked complaints from passers-by, but authorities are yet to reveal a solution for it.
The $5,500 installations were originally intended to be a three-month project, but public reaction has forced the council to end the trial soon after New Year’s Day. “We will look at things next week and if the trial is found to have not worked, we will pull them entirely. If they are successful, then we will give it a bit longer. Boxing day will be the big test,” said Bell.