If you have ever wondered why your rates keeping going up year after year, look no further than our story on page one. The news that the Rodney Local Board is building toilet blocks at Omaha and Wellsford should have been something to celebrate. The townsfolk of Wellsford have long been asking for a replacement for their antique public facilities and anyone who has been to Omaha Beach on a hot summer’s day knows that the facilities under the surf club are far from adequate.
But the expenditure of $1.24 million on seven toilets, urinals and changing rooms at Omaha and $1.13 million on five toilets, a baby change table, men’s urinal and carpark lighting in Wellsford is shameful. It is yet another example of a bureaucracy (Auckland Council) that is out of touch with reality, with little or no fiscal nous or responsibility.
Out of interest, we spoke to two local house building companies to get an idea of what people in the trade thought of these charges. They confirmed that the cost of an average three-bedroomed home, with a bathroom and en suite, starts around $450,000 to $500,000. That’s two houses for about the same price as just one of these toilet blocks! One company representative commented: “Sweet deal for the builder. I wish someone would ask me to build a few toilets for that price!”
In 2018, Hutt City came under fire for spending $260,000 on two new public toilets and Nelson City Council was also criticised for spending $798,000 on an architecturally designed toilet block in 2020. These prices pale in comparison to the Mahurangi toilets.
According to figures released by the Board, the design and consenting fees for the Omaha block cost $111,000, while Wellsford wasn’t much better at $86,000. Excuse our ignorance, but isn’t building public toilets bog-standard work for Council? How much ‘design’ do they need? Surely a set of toilets designed for Kowhai Park in Warkworth, Blockhouse Bay or Takapuna would be suitable for Wellsford or Omaha with minor modifications.
What’s troubling about all this is that members of the Local Board, who we rely on to keep these projects in check, were either not paying attention or were comfortable with this level of wastage. The final insult is that despite the mantra to ‘buy local’, we understand that that toilets were built in Gisborne and trucked here. Talk about money down the toilet!