Draft strategy could see people asked to pay for public toilet use in Bendigo

The need for pay-per-use toilets in Bendigo will be monitored as part of a council plan to overhaul the city’s public restrooms. 

A draft public toilet strategy will be tabled at a meeting of Bendigo council on Wednesday night, with the long-term possibility of a user paid system one if its recommendations.

“In many cities across the world, local council charges a small fee to allow the public to use municipal toilets,” the draft strategy said.

“In return for this fee, users are guaranteed a high level of cleanliness and hygiene as well as constant passive surveillance.” 

Eppalock ward councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth, who pushed for new public toilets in Heathcote during last year’s election campaign, said it was too early to know if a payment system was needed. But asking a fee was one way of ensuring facilities were kept in good working order, she said. 

The councillor believed public toilets were a boon for tourism, with visitors stopping at and returning to places they knew high-quality bathrooms existed. 

“[The toilet is] really sometimes the first place you visit, and the ones you remember and mention are often the ones where you had a good experience,” Ms Wrigglesworth said. 

The draft strategy also posited that payment would not have to apply to all toilets and locations, and would only follow a period of community consultation. 

It is one of several approaches under consideration to improve access to and quality of toileting facilities in Bendigo.

Another unconventional recommendation to council involves a “community toilet scheme” trial, whereby businesses are offered a financial incentive to allow passers-by into their bathrooms.

Planners considered similar schemes in Germany and United Kingdom when drafting the toilet strategy. 

“The provision of new council-owned and managed facilities should not necessarily be prioritised in locations where there is a concentration of large private commercial areas,” the draft strategy outlined. 

Ms Wrigglesworth believed it could be in a business’ interest to welcome passers-by to use their toilets.

“Even if you're not intending on buying something, you might if you have to wander your way through (to the bathroom),” she said.

The decommissioning of several toilets blocks inside the next two years is also laid out in the draft strategy’s action plan.

Facilities in line for removal include those at California Gully’s Truscott Reserve, Lake Weeroona and Caradon Way, Eaglehawk. 

Bendigo Aerodrome toilets, and those in Camp Street, Kangaroo Flat are also earmarked for removal.