VICTORIA - It's basically a spruced up downtown outhouse, but Victoria's so-called Langley Street Loo is now known as Canada's best restroom.
A nationwide contest saw Victoria's outdoor, public restroom top four other — much appreciated — washrooms in Vancouver, Toronto, and Repentigny, Quebec, for biffy supremacy.
Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said Tuesday he couldn't resist engaging in a bit of toilet humour to mark the occasion as he accepted the award-winning plaque during a ceremony at the restroom.
"If you'll pardon the pun, as mayor, representing mayor and council, we are all flushed with excitement to receive this award," he said. "It's nice to be No. 1, or No. 2 — or both."
Fortin said the Langley Street Loo, Victoria's second outdoor, public restroom, is part of the city's strategy to keep the downtown flowing with tourists and young people.
He said Victoria had a problem with late-night public urination, but the installation of the public restrooms has cut that down greatly.
"You have to have that late-night economy that makes an interesting tourist town, an interesting university town, basically a capital that people want to come and visit. Restrooms, washrooms have been a big part of that," Fortin said.
Cintas' Canada Ltd., a company that provides restroom supplies, among other services, started the best restroom in Canada contest in 2010 to honour businesses that place hygiene and style at the top of their priority lists and recognize that clean washrooms mean repeat customers.
Cintas' spokesman Rod Farquharson said the Victoria Loo isn't known for being lavish, but the stainless steel, unisex toilet provides an eco-friendly, convenient and free service that appealed to the most voters.
"This is probably one of the quirkiest contests to follow, but you can't deny that there is a strong relationship in business success between offering a clean, friendly, convenient washroom that's accessible to customers, and in this case, to the community," he said.
The prized public potty, which offers around-the-clock relief, was purchased from the City of Portland, Oregon, last year for $90,000 and is maintained by the city's sanitation crews.
Cintas said the contest attracted nominations for restrooms in restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and educational institutions across Canada.
The finalists were selected on cleanliness, innovation, functionality, visual appeal and unique design elements.
The four other finalists were: This is London Club, Toronto; Earls, King St., Toronto; The Georgian Court Hotel, Vancouver; Centre for Professional Training, Repentigny, Quebec.