Government is exploring the option of imposing fees to use public restrooms at select beaches across the territory.
Minister of Natural Resources & Labour Vincent Wheatley said this is one of two alternative options being discussed by his ministry because the current maintenance cost to keep the facilities fully opened to the public daily is “not sustainable”.
“Inevitably, will become a burden on the public’s purse,” Wheatley said while speaking in the House of Assembly recently.
“Consequently, this ministry is currently exploring the option of imposing a fee for the use of the facilities or the possibility of even having the management of these facilities become an entrepreneurial opportunity and will, therefore, put forward the necessary recommendations,” he explained.
If implemented, the minister said the fees would only be applied at beach restroom facilities for which his ministry is responsible.
The ministry currently manages the restroom facilities at Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, Long Bay on Beef Island, and Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. Wheatley said his ministry is also making temporary provisions for portable facilities to be installed at Josiah’s Bay until construction efforts to the existing structure are completed.
Maintenance expenses too high
Minister Wheatley also stated that when the Great Harbour and Cane Garden Bay restroom facilities were transferred from the Health Ministry to his ministry in 2018, those facilities came with an annual maintenance budget of $4,000.
But in an effort to improve the restroom facilities at the locations, the budget received an additional $35,000, Wheatley said. However, he said the sum was still not sufficient as the maintenance expenses kept on rising.
“Unfortunately, these funds have been quickly consumed by costs relating to the rental of the portable facilities at Josiah’s Bay, repairs to all facilities, which have been steadily on the increase, and utility bills which have escalated,” Minister Wheatley explained.
Some facilities to remain closed
He also said that until an effective solution is determined, the Long Bay and Cane Garden restroom facilities will remain closed to the general public on days when there are no cruise ship calls to the territory.
“We were then informed that the facility at Cane Garden Bay was kept closed … due to the constant vandalism and an insufficient budget. This ministry has since made the restrooms available on weekends for functions, but ceased as the facility was too often left in a very untidy state, garbage bins went missing, and fixtures were constantly damaged,” Minister Wheatley stated.
He, however, said that the facility at Great Harbour currently remains open every day.