4 June 2024

Braddon businesses replacing toilet seats 'every week' due to planning oversight

| James Coleman
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Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrian crossings, garden beds, park benches – all lovely. But where do you ‘go’? Photo: City Renewal Authority (CRA).

A $4 million makeover of the gritty inner suburb of Braddon was said to be all about the people – improving the safety of pedestrians by calming motorists – but it seems the designs left out something important to us all. Facilities to answer the call of nature.

Construction crews are adding the finishing touches to the garden beds and paintwork on Lonsdale Street, a year after they set out on what the City Renewal Authority (CRA) described as an “exciting milestone”.

“From landscaping and street furniture to better pram and wheelchair access, the upgrades will encourage more people to enjoy Braddon’s array of retail shops, cafes, bars and restaurants,” CRA Acting CEO Craig Gillman told Region in May 2023.

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The plans, with input from some 300 locals, included new median works near the Cooyong Street intersection, an upgrade of the Girrahween Street intersection, and raised pedestrian crossings north and south of the ‘rainbow roundabout’.

Up to 25 car spaces along the middle and shoulders of Lonsdale Street were also exchanged for a mix of garden beds and footpaths (including bike racks and park benches).

Lonsdale Street

Lonsdale Street a year apart. Photo: City Renewal Authority (CRA).

In a Facebook post on 29 May, the CRA said early signs were good.

“New raised pedestrian crossings have calmed traffic travelling along the street and prioritised pedestrians, making it easier to get between Braddon’s renowned shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars,” it read.

“Wider paths, new furniture, and improved lighting have provided a better street experience with informal gathering spaces, and more outdoor dining opportunities.”

Raised pedestrian crossings

The raised pedestrian crossings are said to have slowed down motorists. Photo: City Renewal Authority.

Susan Davidson, from local community group The Braddon Collective, agrees and says the local community is “very happy” with the changes.

She says trying to cross Lonsdale Street on foot used to be a game of Russian roulette, especially on Sundays, when throngs of people would descend on Braddon for the Haig Park Village Markets.

The speed limit was always 40 km/h, but Susan says the raised pedestrian crossings have forced cars to slow down and not push the limit.

The result feels far safer.

“It feels like it’s gone from being a place where traffic dominated to one where you can actually walk comfortably, particularly for people with strollers, the elderly and people with disabilities … It’s a lot more pleasant to sit outside and enjoy a meal or drink too.”

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The idea of removing many of the street’s precious few car parks had many local businesses worried about whether Canberrans would judge Braddon all too hard and take their money elsewhere.

But Susan argues any effect of this would be “pretty minor in the big scheme of things”, and the number of cars that could actually park on Lonsdale Street before never came close to replicating the number of customers needed to keep the area’s businesses thriving.

“And if it makes the streets more friendly for people, it attracts more people to use those streets as well.”

She expects the Summernats Fringe Festival to go ahead as normal in January 2025, but car owners may like to double check their ride heights before tackling the street’s new raised crossings.


Susan Davidson and Nick Seefried from the Braddon Collective have argued for a more pedestrian-friendly Braddon for years. Photo: James Coleman.

However there is one glaring omission, and no word on when it might be fixed.

“There are very few public toilets.”

There are exactly two in Braddon, both based in Haig Park at the northern end of Lonsdale Street and out of the way of many shoppers. Susan says this results in a cost for local businesses who are left to cover the inevitable – and often inexplicable – vandalism.

“I know one building on Mort Street – frequently used by the public – is replacing toilet seats every week, and often the whole toilet – I don’t know how they do it, but people even break toilets – every month,” she says.

“You spend time in Lonsdale Street, and if you’ve got to walk to the Canberra Centre or Haig Park to use a public toilet, it’s ridiculous. There’s a desperate need for public toilets in that commercial area.”

The CRA says work is underway on the next stage of the project at the intersection of Elouera and Mort streets. The existing roundabout has been removed to make way for a new raised intersection which will feature pedestrian crossings, lighting, wider verges, and new garden beds.

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There are several public toilets in Manuka yet I’m there walking through the Anglican churchyard the other day and I have to stop to avoid the guy in front of me pissing on a tree. He’s right there in front of the church on Captain Cook Avenue, a busy public area in the afternoon. Kids are around.

What is the matter with such blokes who seem to have a complete lack of self-discipline and no care for their impact on others? It is such selfish morons who damage toilets and other public facilities. It seems there will always be morons who show no respect for other people and their needs.

Because there is so much Vandalism in Canberra these days CCTV needs to be installed in these types of areas and roundabouts
much like the UK.

Lucky that the Braddon businesses can survive and thrive with just the local apartment dweller customers. I certainly won’t be heading that way due to the impossibility of parking my car in relatively close vicinity.

Why would anyone expect the ACT government to provide public toilets in Braddon, when it fails to do so in many public parks and children’s play areas? At least in Braddon you can go to the pub for the toilet.

The ACT government doesn’t want to provide anything that requires maintenance, which is the reason for the lack of rubbish bins, public toilets, water bubblers etc. They have no desire to meet the needs of the public, as is obvious.

How about building these conveniences out of virtually indestructible materials – metal instead of ceramics and that type of thing – like they do in prisons?

The two public toilets in the City Interchange are those, metal build, near indestructible

It’s the same situation for every “suburban” shopping area across Canberra, the lack of public toilets, at least Braddon has them close by at the Canberra Centre (which really arent public toiliet but provided by the businesses renting) or Haigh Park, most suburbs have none even close by

The most common cause of broken toilets and seats is people standing to squat on them. A lot of immigrants come from squat toilet countries and continue the practice here. I believe squatting is a more natural way to do ones business. A bus driver told me that they have signs on the back of the toilet doors in their depot showing how to use sit down toilets after an injury to a driver squatting and the toilet breaking .

Margaret Freemantle2:22 pm 02 Jun 24

It seems to me to be a good idea for all those responsible for Public toilet decisions, need to see the film ‘Perfect Days’. A movie inspired by Upgrades to Tokyo toilets . Canberra is in dire need of more and better of same! It is a basic need, neglected in Lonsdale Street.

Seems that bars that make money by selling alcohol should also share in the benefit of “intoxicated idiots”. Not sure shifting toilet costs to the public is the way to go. I would think that the tram delivers more customers to Braddon than cars, maybe if the business wants parking they should cough up for underground parking say in Haigh Park.

kaleen_calous12:36 pm 02 Jun 24

No planning oversight – cheap and cheerful is the Canberra way!

Capital Retro11:40 am 02 Jun 24

In Braddon: “the world is your oyster”

In Tuggeranong: “the world is you urinal”

It’s funny they talk a lot about the potential impacts of the lack of parking and then as a response left with this:

But Susan argues any effect of this would be “pretty minor in the big scheme of things”.

I guess going out of business is minor.

Imagine an after work party, most people are local but gaurentee at least one is travelling by car. It’s easier usually to go elsewhere than deal with parking.

That’s the whole reason the CRA exists is because Braddon needs help after the tram killed local business though parking removal and rent increases.

It really is though, 16 car spaces is nothing. It isn’t even worth driving down for a look, just park in the London circuit main park and – oh no – suffer a 3 minute walk.

16 car spaces is absolutely nothing. But multilevel parking in London circuit to increase total spaces there, that would be worth it.
Like, doubling capacity to 500 spaces, that is.

Colin Outstuff9:38 am 02 Jun 24

Can’t get a pothole filled in Tuggeranong but I’m glad that clown Barr continues to look after his own backyard.

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