It will now cost almost $800,000 to replace the "antiquated" Pertobe Road toilet block in Warrnambool with a high-end facility - a blow out of $300,000.
City councillors voted five-one in favour of spending the extra cash on the project at Monday's meeting, but Cr Max Taylor who voted against the motion wants the new facility built closer to the beach at McGennan car park.
Money the council had set aside to upgrade toilet facilities at Jubilee Park will be diverted to the project after the city received a government grant for the Hopkins River works earlier this year.
Other options put before councillors was to scale back the design of the $797,000 project, or only build what $500,000 could buy, but that was rejected.
Cr Taylor said he was "not at all happy" with the project for many reasons, and took issue with it being called the McGennan Placemaking Project when it was "clearly" connected to the Lake Pertobe precinct and Pertobe Road.
He said councillors were also not made aware of a 2017 petition that was presented to the former council from beach users who called for changerooms and toilets to be located in the McGennan car park precinct.
"Why this petition wasn't made aware to the current council, I'm at a loss," he said. Cr Richard Ziegeler said he was also perturbed about not being aware of the petition.
In April 2017, The Standard reported that Jill Exell's petition, which was signed by 73 people, labelled the current toilet facilities antiquated and called for toilets to be built on vacant land opposite the outdoor showers in McGennan car park.
Cr Taylor said he hoped that in the future there would be a facility next to the beach at McGennan car park like when the original kiosk and changerooms were right on the beach before being shifted and "false sand dunes" built in their place.
He said facilities at McGennan car park would have provided "far more usage" for beach users, walkers and cyclists. "You already have two toilet blocks on Pertobe Road, both within 100 meters east and west of this project, so you'll now have three toilet blocks within 200 metres of one another," he said.
Cr Ziegeler said it was a difficult decision to rebuild the toilets at the current location, but councillors had been told a new facility closer to McGennan came with an even higher price tag.
"If I had the perfect world I would have put it up in the McGennan car park area. I think Cr Taylor is quite right, it would have been better there," he said.
Cr Ziegeler said the project didn't meet the needs of the users at the car park but, on balance, the council was obliged to go with the current footprint.
In June last year, options for replacement of the toilets were presented to the former council - most of them involved moving the facility closer to the beach.
Cr Ben Blain said increased construction costs, and a higher-end facility, meant the cost of the project had come in over budget.
"We have been lucky to source external funding for the upgrades for the Jubilee Park facilities, so council is able to use the funding we were going to allocate there to deliver a more high-end facility down at Lake Pertobe," Cr Blain said.
The project is part of the Lake Pertobe masterplan upgrade which was being partly funded by $2.9 million in federal government funding awarded in 2019.
"Our foreshore area is the jewel in the crown. It's a very special space for our city. I do think it is worthy of a high-end facility down there," Cr Blain said.
"With four showers, two family rooms, this new amenity I think will be able to best service the needs for the Warrnambool community both now and into the future.
"If we cut back on the high-quality build on this asset for our foreshore, we would actually be doing a disservice to the Warrnambool community."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Cr Blain said he understood councillor Cr Taylor's concerns but new footpaths would link the new facility to the promenade, making it safer and more accessible.
Cr Debbie Arnott said the foreshore was a major attraction to the city and the council needed to ensure the facility it built provided for future growth.
"I am pleased to say that even though building costs have gone up, it's not actually going to cost council or we need to find any more money to support it," she said.
Mayor Vicki Jellie said she could see Cr Taylor's reasoning for having a changeroom facility in the McGennan car park area.
She said that while she didn't always agree, the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning as well as the police had deemed that location as a risk area. "Maybe that can be changed later," Cr Jellie said.
"Yes it's costing more money than we thought, but we want to have something that looks great and that will be there for a long time."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we aim to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.