Lid lifted on dirty toilets

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on March 30, 2018

AN ALBANY resident has stepped forward and aired her disgust about the current state of a toilet block in Albany’s CBD, which she says has been left unattended for weeks.

Joy Graham told The Weekender she often walks past the toilet block, located behind Wake’s Music on the corner of Lockyer Avenue and Albany Highway, and says the state of the toilets has severely declined.

“There’s crap all over the toilet bowls and over the tops of the bowls, and it’s been like that for weeks,” she said.

“There are leaves and debris inside, so it hasn’t been swept, and there’s broken glass, rubbish, and there’s no soap or toilet paper.

“It’s disgusting.”

Ms Graham said she had spoken with the toilet block landowner, proprietor of Wake’s Music Eric Wake, and had also contacted the City of Albany regarding the state of the toilet block.

“They [City of Albany] said it was private property and they’d handballed it to Mr Wake, and said they’d talk to him about it,” she said.

Mr Wake told The Weekender that he and the City of Albany had an agreement on the toilet block’s maintenance since he purchased the land from the City about 15 years ago.

“We bought the land off the City, and as a public gesture, we allowed the toilet block to stay open, and the City did the cleaning,” he said.

“We paid council rates and overheads for the block, and they provided the toilet paper.

“All of a sudden, out of the blue, the City said they could no longer clean the toilets, as it was costing them $15,000 a year.

“It costs me more than $15,000 a year in overheads for the block.”

Mr Wake said the City ceased maintaining the toilet block about two months ago, right in the middle of the tourist season.

He said he carried out maintenance for a while, but was unable to continue as he did not have all the keys to the block’s amenities.

“We had someone sweep through about once every 10 days and check the toilet paper,” he said.

“But, when they [City] locked it up and put up the private sign, they gave me the keys to the door but didn’t give me the keys to the appliances, so we physically can’t replace things like the toilet paper.”

Mr Wake was not impressed with the City’s efforts to maintain public facilities at the upper end of the CBD.

“I get people and tourists coming in all the time asking to use the toilet,” he said.

“When we get a boatload of 500 to 2000 people coming in, we’ve only got one toilet for them; this is Albany central… I think it’s very poor that a tourism city has one toilet block at this end of the street.”

Mr Wake also raised the issue of providing a 24/7 facility for homeless people to use.

“I see the City wasting money on other projects around town, but not spending it on toilets,” he said.

“If they’re not going to maintain this facility, they need to provide another facility for the top of York Street.”

City of Albany Executive Director for Infrastructure and Environment Matt Thomson confirmed the toilet block was privately owned and the City previously had an understanding with Mr Wake regarding maintenance, but it was no longer responsible for servicing the facility.

“Given the facility is not a public asset, it was determined that the ongoing costs of servicing this facility were excessive and did not provide the community with best value for that spend.

“With shopping centres, fast food outlets and the Town Square facilities in close proximity, the City could not justify continuing to service the privately-owned facility.”

Mr Thomson said the City had not received any complaints from the community regarding the toilet block.