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It's a pay-toilet I'll use

Taxpayers own million-dollar biffy
Tom Brodbeck, January 20, 2005

City hall wants the $1-million toilet on the dink bridge open to the public -- even if it's in the middle of a swanky, martini-serving restaurant on the footbridge's 4,000-square-foot plaza. It seems fair. After all, we paid a million bucks for the award-winning toilet. We should all be able to use it.

A year after the completion of the over-budget, $22-million footbridge, the plaza that was supposed to house an upscale restaurant is still empty.

And that means the million-dollar toilet -- a 2003 winner of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Teddy Awards for wasteful spending -- still hasn't seen its first flush.

We kind of got suckered twice on this one. We paid $1 million to put a toilet on a footbridge. But no one's been able to use it, yet.

And, if nobody minds, I'd like to be the first -- when it finally does open one day.

After all, I did give it its name. And I helped it win the CTF's silver pig award -- a prestigious honour any municipal government should be proud of.

Apparently, whoever does get to run a restaurant, popsicle stand, yogurt bar or whatever they end up putting on this thing, has to ensure that the facilities are accessible to the public -- even for non-patrons.

At least according to one restaurateur quoted in Wednesday's Sun, who's been trying for months to open an eatery on the bridge.

'They definitely want the washrooms accessible to the public and, to me, that's ridiculous -- there's no way in the world that we'd give in to that,' said Dave Waters of Storm Catering.

It's not really that ridiculous, though, Dave. This thing is going to be a tourist attraction. People from all over Canada are going to want to say they flushed Winnipeg's $1-million toilet. And they may not want a meal at the Dink Diner. They may just want to check out the facilities.

Besides, excluding non-patrons from the $1-million toilet wouldn't be fair to the city's low-income people, who probably won't be able to afford a plate of duck a l'orange at the new diner.

CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY

Anyway, I checked it out. It's true, the bathroom will have to be open to the public.

This is what the request for proposals for the Dink Diner says: 'The contractor will not restrict public access to the washrooms.'

And how could they, when we all ponied up a million bucks to build this thing?

This toilet is cutting-edge technology.

The reason it cost so much is that they had to build the water lines and the sewer pipes right into the main girder of the bridge. And because of our arctic-like climate, they not only had to insulate the pipes, they have to heat them in the winter, too. True story.

It's kind of like a toilet block heater. I'd love to know what the electricity costs will be to heat the pipes on this thing.

In any event, it's part of the legend of the $1-million toilet.

It's part of the charm.

And you can't fault the folks at city hall for wanting to share it with the world.


The Winnipeg Sun


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