June 1, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Saguenay: Avant-garde toilets, but unusable

Saguenay: Avant-garde toilets, but unusable

The self-cleaning toilets at the Racine Street bus terminus in Saguenay have been lying unused for months.

These self-cleaning toilets were installed about 10 years ago at a cost of $200,000, but the European-made model was ill-suited to Saguenay winters.

“It’s closed all the time, regardless of the time,” lamented a daily user of the Societe de Transport de Saguenay (STS).

“We’ve had this problem for too long. We’re fed up!” said Claude Bouchard, City Councilor and Chairman of the STS Board of Directors.

A European-made sanitary service should be automatic and self-cleaning, easy to maintain and resistant to vandalism. All for $200,000. The designers, Urban Blue, may have underestimated one detail.

“The system freezes in the winter, observed Claude Bouchard. Without going into technical details, I can tell you that we tried everything to solve the problem. But if it was easy, it would have already been fixed.

Efforts to repair the damage have so far been unsuccessful. The necessary parts must come from Europe, and the hunt seems complicated.

“The company has struggled to get supplies since the pandemic started and it’s out of inventory for other parts. What we tried with North American parts didn’t work,” the CA president noted.

Chemical latrines were installed in the city this summer, but they were removed as winter approached.

Lack of toilets encourages many users to seek other solutions. For example, try your luck at a neighboring Dar Salma restaurant.

“Not less than ten a day,” said owner Najib Phanidi. I have to refuse, because our toilets are for restaurant customers, not city citizens”.

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“I would have no qualms about contributing to a one- or two-week closure, but since we opened the restaurant one-and-a-half years ago, the STS toilets have been closed 90% of the time,” he says.

For now, the city and STS are looking for new outlets. But boredom may not be far off.

Fanidi said that if we see that we are not able to save her, we will see what we will do.

Urban Bleu’s Quebec branch was surprised to learn of the situation, saying it was never informed of the problems by the city or STS.