The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration is considering several measures to better manage public bathrooms at four popular beaches as costs rise amid vandalism and misuse by the public, MNRL Minister Vincent Wheatley said on Feb. 25 at the House of Assembly.
Currently, he said, the ministry operates public bathrooms at Long Bay, Beef Island; Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke; and Cane Garden Bay, as well as portable restrooms at Josiahs Bay.
But the budget has been swallowed by frequent repairs, increasing utility expenditures and rental fees for the Josiahs Bay facilities, and the MNRL is considering charging people to use these bathrooms or turning their management over to a private business, Mr. Wheatley said.
“The current system is clearly not sustainable and inevitably will become a burden on the public’s purse,” the minister explained.
He did not provide a timeline or further details about his cost-reduction proposals, but said his ministry will “put forward the necessary recommendations.”
Out of the public restroom facilities under the ministry’s purview, only those at Great Harbour are open seven days a week, Mr. Wheatley said.
In 2018, the responsibility for upkeep of the bathrooms at Great Harbour and Cane Garden Bay, as well as a $4,000 annual maintenance budget for these facilities, was transferred from the Ministry of Health and Social Development to the MNRL, Mr. Wheatley said.
Then, “during the Standing Finance debate for this current budget, in an effort to improve the restroom services at our beaches, we were given an additional $35,000,” he added, without specifying how much of this sum went directly towards bathroom maintenance.
After the MNRL assumed responsibility for the bathrooms at Great Harbour and Cane Garden Bay, ministry officials decided to make the bathrooms at Cane Garden Bay available for weekend “functions,” but have since ceased this practice, Mr. Wheatley said.
Bathrooms in that bay were “too often left in a very untidy state,” with garbage bins missing and fixtures broken, the minister said.