This past B.C. Day long weekend people packed the beach at Whonnock Lake to enjoy the beautiful weather.
However, the portable toilets were reportedly in rough shape.
A Maple Ridge resident who was at the park on Sunday said three of the four portable toilets were unusable.
There was feces on the floor of one of the portable toilets, there was feces on the seat of another toilet, and a third was full with a “mountain” of waste, said the resident.
Only one portable toilet, he said, was in usable condition.
The parking lot was also full, he said, and people were parking in any vacant space they could find, including over shrubs between trees.
LIkewise, dirty toilets full of feces and paper greeted Rodrigo Pinto when he brought his two young children to use the portable facilities at Whonnock Lake on a recent Sunday in July.
Pinto took his family to the beach on July 19 to enjoy the sunny weather when only two portable toilets were available for the packed beach and the public bathrooms at Whonnock Lake Centre were closed due to COVID-19.
The Whonnock Lake Centre bathrooms were since reopened, on July 23.
He also complained that the toilets had not been cleaned in a long time and that one of them was completely full of feces and paper.
Whonnock Lake experienced a huge increase in use in July, said Valoree Richmond, director of parks and facilities for the City of Maple Ridge, who confirmed they were informed that same day of Pinto’s complaint that the portable toilets had reached capacity.
“An emergency cleaning was ordered,” said Richmond.
And, the next day the city added two additional portable toilets at the park, explained Richmond – bringing the total amount of available toilets to four.
City staff have since been adjusting their “normal” service levels of garbage collection at the park based on feedback from citizens, said Richmond, adding that they are encouraging people to reach out to the city on a 24-hour phone line if there are issues.
Portable toilets were being serviced three times a week, but with the increase in demand on the park’s facilities, the cleaning schedule has been increased, said Richmond.
And with the implementation of the day-pass system at Golden Ears Provincial Park on July 27, Richmond noted, the city will be closely monitoring the impact that has on attendance numbers at local parks.
When Golden Ears park reached capacity, people flocked to other Maple Ridge parks, including Whonnock Lake park, to enjoy the sunny weather, noted Richmond.
“We continue to monitor our parks sites and escalate the routine cleanings and garbage pickups at these sites as the usage increases beyond the norm.”