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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Knickers in a knot over Byron’s mulfunctioning loos

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Byron's 'loos with views' are not so much fun when the doors open on users mid-stream. Photo Jeff Dawson
Byron’s ‘loos with views’ are not so much fun when the doors open on users mid-stream. Photo Jeff Dawson

It appears not a lot of locals or visitors have sung the praises of Byron Shire Council’s new self-cleaning toilets which replaced cubicles in Apex and Railway parks.

Echonetdaily reported in December last year that the new Byron Bay Exeloo toilets would be low maintenance, self cleaning, relocatable and were vandal resistant.

But reports soon began to emerge of long queues and malfunctions.

The Echo asked Council staff if they were concerned that these new toilets were not adequate given the teething problems.

Byron Shire Council’s open spaces manager, Michael Matthews, confirmed that there had been teething problems with the new toilets.

He says the problems have ranged from toilet paper dispensing, unplanned door opening and users clogging the pipes with nappies.

‘As the amenities are under warranty, we have worked through the issues with the manufacturer.

High use

‘This has included changing how paper is dispensed, installing new movement detection sensors and the replacement of internal touch sensitive buttons with traditional push buttons.’

Mr Matthews said the new toilets at Apex Park are very popular and the number of uses per month is at ‘around 23,000, which is very high.’

There have been about six reported incidents of unplanned door openings, he says, which have been linked to high usage times and user error.

‘To help take some of the pressure off the beachfront toilets, we’ve installed a new men’s urinal block at the surf club and this has significantly improved turnover at the busy location.

‘Initial data indicates a greater than 20 per cent reduction in usage at Apex Park Exeloo since the urinal was installed. The challenge we face at Railway Park is when a bus arrives and 40-plus people offload and want to use the toilet. In this instance, there will most likely always be a need to wait.’

Mr Matthews made the observation that the encouraging aspect of the new toilets is the robustness of the units against vandalism and improved cleanliness of the facilities.

‘Unclean amenities that were constantly vandalised was previously a common complaint,’ he said.

‘The public amenity sites are part of the Byron Bay Town Planning Masterplan and will feature new facilities. When these are completed, we can move toilet blocks to another key site,’ Mr Matthews said.

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  1. Men only need a urinal. One reason for the long queues is that men have to hog up a whole bathroom to do a wee when we used to be in-and-out of the urinal in 20 seconds. Yes, not an attractive topic, but logistical oversight by Council and designers.

  2. I did not report the time the door opened when I was in the middle cubicle at the beach facility. There were a bunch of kids who must have pushed the button from the outside only a few minutes after I settled in to do my business. The toilet is too far to reach the door to push the button so it will close again and the kids were standing outside laughing which made it seem like it had been going on all morning, the automatic door closes very slowly when you finally do press it. I don’t think I did anything wrong. I locked it and was told I had a certain number of minutes. I found the experience intensely stressful and the floor was very wet so to keep the pants out of the water was a trick. I will NEVER use them again.


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