New toilet at Gardiner Reserve a “breakthrough” win for community

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Brendan Rees

A new toilet at a popular park in North Melbourne will soon open to the public in what most residents say will greatly improve the amenity of the neighbourhood.

The City of Melbourne is installing a single cubicle toilet at Gardiner Reserve after the proposal received overwhelming support by the community.

The toilet will be situated on Haines St, near the corner of Macaulay Rd, with the council confirming it would open by the end of July.

A council survey conducted last year, which reached 8650 people, showed 92 per cent of people were supportive of the public toilet, with park users, particularly young families saying they would be able to enjoy Gardiner Reserve longer.

They said it would also make the reserve “more functional and practical” in the picnic and barbecue areas while not detracting from the park’s overall appeal.

“The park has become a more popular playground and hangout since the redevelopment was completed, which is great,” one resident submitted.

“It makes sense for people using the park to be able to use a bathroom if/when they need it. There are no other public toilet facilities particularly close by.”

However, just over six per cent of the survey’s respondents were against the facility after expressing concerns it may become “disruptive and unsafe”.

Objectors also argued it would be unappealing and had a lack of confidence the facility would be regularly maintained.

“It’s an eyesore. Also, as a resident of Haines St, I’m concerned it will attract illicit drug users and drug dealers,” one said.

Another said it would encourage loitering and “undesirables” to the children’s park.

Concerns were also raised in relation to accessing the reserve’s car parking which “might be exacerbated by increased visitation expected from additional public facilities.”

The council has chosen an Exeloo “Galaxy” designed toilet, a modern and compact cubicle that features a touchless design, requiring minimal contact with toilet surfaces.

Local resident Brendan Gleeson, who is also a professor of urban planning at the University of Melbourne, believed the new toilet would be a “breakthrough” for families using the park’s playground and facilities.

While there was some concern expressed about the design of the facility, he said the “landscaping is attractive with minimal impact on the reserve’s natural features”.

 

“Importantly, the facility’s design makes it highly accessible for people with disabilities.”

 

Mr Gleeson said the toilet was also in a well-lit area and next to nearby apartment blocks, reducing the possibility it would attract anti-social behaviour.

“The City of Melbourne is to be commended for committing itself to the sustainable development goals which encourage social inclusion, and this is what that commitment looks like ‘on the ground’.”

The council said the toilet met “the growing popularity and accessibility requirements of this much-loved park and playground”.

Gardiner Reserve underwent an expansion and upgrade in 2018-19 which included new trees and shrubs being planted, improved pedestrian paths, a new picnic area, and an upgrade to the children’s playground. •

 

Caption: North Melbourne resident Brendan Gleeson. 

Photo: Murray Enders.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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