A matter of urgency

• An activated square, or just a long queue for a toilet?

COLIN NICHOL wrote earlier in the Herald about public toilets at Walyalup Centre (“The Pearl in the Oyster,” Thinking Allowed, December 25, 2021) and now, after witnessing unsettling scenes in the foyer, revisits an essential service. 

IF it’s correct that central Fremantle has sufficient public toilets for the demand, why the queues? 

Why are there groups of anxious women casting about looking for alternatives to the ones they are waiting for? 

Why is there not more effective signage to the pokey access of those in Walyalup Centre? 

Is removal of signs at public facilities at the adjacent FOMO food arcade a cynical move to reduce their usage? 

They are the nearest the central city has after-hours – for the unpredictable times that arcade is open – other than some accommodating pubs, cafes and bars around town. 

Councils expect private enterprise to take the pressure off them, but the heavily-used facilities at the former Woolstores shopping Centre are no longer there to provide relief. Also, no longer available are those in the old town hall building, which used to be open to the public. Culley’s Tearooms should not be the resort to fill the gap. 

Of course, it’s more than a matter of providing the buildings, there’s maintenance and security, major concerns. 

Council has to concern itself, not with just providing facilities but with how they are often poorly dealt with by the public. They are currently well maintained. 

Fremantle is trying to encourage tourism yet has under-provided an essential service that goes with that. 

The City wants visitors but doesn’t adequately provide for them. 

It’s no good pointing to the two toilet blocks on the Esplanade, not everyone wants to, can, or has time to walk down there and back. 

There are an adequate number of units circled around the town, but they are distant from the hub of activity. 

Again, clearer signage is needed.

The Point Street carpark ones are long-closed, likewise those at the classic 1913 Beach Street Pumping Station, opposite the railway station. 

At least those in the station are available and a stoical climb to those on Arthur Head will reward the effort, eventually. 

It’s not only the number of units, it’s convenience of their location and signage. 

The town centre is being caught short. 

That billion-dollar pipeline of development for Fremantle could surely include adequate plumbing.

But how to resolve the central city situation?

Infrastructure is up to Fremantle council. 

Opportunities have been missed for an adequate strategic facility, especially with the recent civic centre building.

Council will have to spend more than a penny to relieve this situation. 

Given the will, space could be found for a comprehensive installation at external ground level of Walyalup Centre, which should have been the original plan. 

Of course, that presents problems; security staff would be required. But such is reality.

Pro-active guidance from staff to pit-stop visitors would help. So would a few fixed signs around the square. The sign outside the entrance being brought inside when it blows over is comedic.

The centre’s offering is inadequate during rush times and is still not effectively signposted. 

Walkabout signs have appeared inside the main concourse, which help when pointing the right way, but they are right at the site of the inside toilets anyway. Another sign is needed in the foyer to point onwards to them.

Yes, that would make the reception area to the city’s headquarters look even more like a public convenience. 

Having a public toilet as part of the entrance to the city’s headquarters is certainly innovative.

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