A Northwest Territories minister is promising movement on movements after a photo circulated on Facebook of a highway washroom in a sorry state.
The photo appears to depict a washroom at the 60th Parallel Territorial Park, just across the NWT border from Alberta, with a toilet clogged full of paper… and potentially other substances.
“After this week, I might have to swear off Facebook for good,” exclaimed Hay River North MLA RJ Simpson as he raised the toilet tissue issue with tourism minister Wally Schumann in the legislature on Tuesday.
“The first thing in my feed was a picture of the inside of the outhouse at the GNWT-owned visitor centre. It was not pretty, and I will spare everyone the gruesome details.
“This is a perennial issue … particularly at the border. It’s where the truckers stop and they don’t take it easy on that bathroom,” said Simpson, to nauseous groans from fellow MLAs.
“It’s not a great way to introduce visitors to the NWT,” he concluded.
Scroll down: If you’re brave enough, the photo is at the bottom of this story
Asked what the territory is doing about the pooing, Schumann said a contractor had already been dispatched to clean up the mess – but added the NWT does not have the money to more frequently monitor such remote washroom facilities in the winter months.
“This comes up every year. This is a difficult situation for us,” said Schumann, who said contractors inspect the toilets daily in the summer but only monthly in winter.
“These things are isolated and remote, there is no power at these locations, and we spend a significant amount of money on this. We spend roughly $50,000 annually to clean these things up in the off-season, and we could probably spend that in a week to really get after this thing, but we don’t have the money to do this,” said Schumann.
“The department is certainly going to be having a look at what we need to do. We’re doing a review right now of our strategic plan on parks, and I am sure this is going to be a topic of discussion.”
Simpson, in response, said he understood the challenges of servicing remote facilities, but continued: “Once a month just isn’t enough. It’s winter, it’s cold, things freeze, and they pile up.”
If you don’t want to scroll down and view the original Facebook image, the MLA and minister between them painted a sufficiently vivid portrait that you probably don’t need to see it.
“We have 8,000 loads going to the mine sites this year, There are 16,000 extra [journeys in] truck traffic going past that facility alone,” said Schumann.
“Just think about that, if that was your washroom, and the amount of toilet paper you’ve got to supply.”
Schumann suggested the territory may look at portable washrooms, use of antifreeze, or installation of bigger tanks as a means of relieving the backlog.
“Or maybe in this particular case, if members really help me access some funding from the finance minister, maybe we run a power line from the Alberta section to the border,” Schumann said, to laughter.
“It costs $70,000 to construct just a regular outhouse. To do a heated facility, with these challenges, would probably be double that, not counting running power out to this type of facility. We’ll try to come up with something before next winter.
“We are looking at all these alternatives and this is going to be a conversation not just with this facility, but with a number of facilities.”
Be warned: Scrolling down will involve a messy toilet