McIvor Times

Heathcote says goodbye to 40-year-old toilet block, hello to new $400,000 public toilets

By McIvor Times

THE RECENT demolition of a Heathcote toilet block marks the end of a seven-year $400,000 toilet saga.

For nearly 40 years the toilet block served as a highly used traveller’s pit stop and saving grace for locals.

The City of Greater Bendigo itself admitted the block, which used to sit behind the Heathcote Visitor Centre, was “one of Greater Bendigo’s most used facilities”.

But the demolition on January 30 was not a surprise.

For several years the toilet block’s days had been numbered.

Advance Heathcote Incorporated member Sherrie Coote said talk of replacing the ageing block began in 2013 when the 2014-2017 town plan was drafted.

“It wasn’t large enough to deal with the high demand,” Ms Coote said of the now non-existent block.

“The toilet block was one of the oldest public toilets in the City of Greater Bendigo catchment area, and it was very high use.”

Heathcote’s position halfway between Melbourne and Echuca meant large numbers of travellers were using the public toilet block.

“Big tour buses would come through town and stop there, too,” Ms Coote said.

In 2018 the City of Greater Bendigo began to act on Heathcote’s wishes for new toilets.

In mid-2019 construction began and the brand-new replacement block was opened in the lead-up to Christmas.

Ms Coote said despite it taking a “couple of years”, it was good to see the new toilets built.

“Council are to be commended for picking up on a significant issue in our community plan that’s been rattling around for a long time and completing it,” she said.

The new block features a covered entrance, security lighting, three male toilets and three urinals, six female toilets, a unisex accessible toilet and provisions for a future changing place facility.

Ms Coote said the community was happy with the design.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from visitors who’ve said ‘what a great toilet’,” she said.

“There has been an increase in size, it’s now modern and up-to-date and it is also disability accessible.

“It is better and more efficient; the old build was just too old.”

City of Greater Bendigo property services manager Daniella McClure said the spot where the 1980s toilet block used to sit will be landscaped.

“This was a priority project for the Heathcote community who have been calling for new toilet facilities to serve Barrack Recreation Reserve for some time,” Ms McClure said.

“It also completes a major action from the City’s Public Toilet Strategy and will be a much welcome addition to the Barrack Reserve for both residents and visitors alike.”

Ms Coote said there was room in the future for a hoist to be installed in one of the disability access rooms.

“There is space there for us to get funding through the State Government for that to be fitted out, hopefully in the next 12 months or so,” she said of the hoist.

The combined cost for the build and demolition came to $400,000 according to City of Greater Bendigo figures.