Three boys fish at LaSalle Park.

Three boys fish at LaSalle Park.

BURLINGTON – Nature was calling for visitors at LaSalle Park recently but the portable toilets by the marina had been removed.

So they made a call of their own to Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven.

Now the mobile washrooms are being returned.

Boat owner and marina user Jim Hendry said when he noticed the portable washrooms were missing it caught him by surprise.

“I thought, ‘This is kind of crazy,’” he said. “Burlington is very proud of its parks and you’ve got so many people that use them you think, ‘Geez, why are they doing this especially to the ones along the water?’”

Hendry said he often sees bird watchers, people walking their dogs and dozens of fishermen at the marina each morning. He also pointed out that when people come into the marina after a day on the water they might need to make a pit stop as well.

“They’re usually breaking for shore and all of a sudden there’s no washroom there. You can almost see the panic on their face,” he said.

Portable toilets were removed from LaSalle Park, Kerncliff Park, Kerns Park and Burloak Waterfront Park during the first two weeks of April as part of the City of Burlington’s 2013 budget.

“We got a lot of negative feedback so the port-o-potty is going back to the LaSalle Park Marina,” said Craven, who added it will be reinstalled this week.

No decision has been made about the other affected parks.

Craven said the portable washrooms at the LaSalle marina provide a necessary service for people because the only other permanent public washroom facility in the area is at the pavilion, which is located at the top of a flight of stairs.

“For the elderly and for children and for people who spend a lot of time at the marina, which they like to do in the summertime, the port-o-potty was of great convenience,” he said. “So we accept that and I am glad to see that staff reversed their position on that.”

During the 2013 budget process, council directed staff to make a series of recommendations on how the city could be more efficient; the removal of port-o-potties at certain parks was one of those recommendations.

“There are some parks that have port-o-potties and over time it has been the impression of staff that some of these port-o-potties are not used as frequently as can be justified by the cost,” said Craven.

The monthly cost of each port-o-potty, with a twice weekly cleaning, is $319. The removal of the port-o-potties at Kerncliff, Kerns, Burloak and LaSalle parks was estimated to save the city $11,000 this year.

Craven said, during the budget process, the topic of the portable washrooms removal was raised only briefly but he spoke against the item.

“With all due respect to my colleagues, this isn’t about port-o-potties,” he said. “It’s about telling the staff to go away and cut and slash the budget without fully understanding the consequences. It’s been something I’ve been arguing against for years.”

For more information on the City of Burlington’s 2013 budget, visit http://cms.burlington.ca/Page8953.aspx.