A debate over pop-up urinals took an unexpected twist at Sydney Town Hall on Monday night, when Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla threatened to publicly expose himself.
Criticising the lack of photographs or drawings portraying the City’s proposal for pop-up urinals in entertainment precincts, Mr Mandla said: “Do I need to demonstrate myself?”
Councillors, City staff and members of the public gallery gasped as Mr Mandla enlivened the normally staid proceedings with his offer to show members of the public how it would be done.
But a pop-up urinal pantomime was averted when City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone promised to include illustrations of the urine receptacles in public exhibition documents.
Pop-up urinals for the entertainment precincts of George St, Kings Cross and Oxford St are just one facet of the City of Sydney Council’s Draft Public Toilet Strategy, which aims to increase the number of public toilets in the city.
In addition to the urinals, the draft envisages nine permanent new public toilets in Sydney’s “village centres”, the provision of accessible toilets at Town Hall House, and an agreement with retailers, cafes and hotels to allow public access to their toilet facilities, among other measures.
However, the pop-up urinal plan attracted the bulk of discussion on the draft during Monday night’s Council meeting.
Mr Mandla insisted: “While open air urination might be the done thing in Europe, it’s not the done thing here and it’s un-Australian.”
Mr Mandla was commenting on the fact that pop-up urinals are already in use in several major European cities.
Living Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas said she had concerns about privacy and hygiene.
Ms Vithoulkas said “modesty doors” must be included and said hand-washing facilities should also be provided, in line with other forms of public toilets.
“Research shows that the incidence of urine contamination of bar food is increasing,” said Ms Vithoulkas.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore defended the plan.
“Public urination is offensive and it does cause distress to people whose houses are urinated on, and if we can have a public toilet strategy in place, it will make a big difference to people’s lives,” said Ms Moore.