Lack of decent loos makes Byron feel "unwelcoming" to family
WHEN new mum Lauren O'Meara moved back to Byron Bay after four years away, she was shocked by how unwelcoming the town felt to new parents.
The 34-year-old mother of two said she could not find a clean area in the town's two public toilets to change her seven-week-old baby Oliver.
"There's no feeding room in town and no baby change table in the toilets in town," she said.
"There was a metal tray in the Main Beach toilets, which was covered in wet toilet paper and sand and had half a falafel roll sitting on it. There's no way I am going to put my baby down on that."
Ms O'Meara, who grew up in the area, said she was saddened to see Byron Bay had become so unwelcoming to parents.
"I lived here for 32 years and now I didn't feel safe using the toilets in Railway Park, and it is so stinking in there that you wouldn't want to let your child touch anything.
"I feel like Byron has been trashed - it just doesn't feel like a friendly little town anymore."
Ms O'Meara said the town was sorely lacking facilities for parents when compared to elsewhere.
"In Melbourne you could use a separate disabled toilet with a fold-out Koala Kare change table - or the shopping centres would have a locked paid key system to access a private parents' room for changing and feeding," she said.
Ms O'Meara said she found suitable change table facilities at the Byron Community Centre and had rung the council to suggest it install signs at the public toilets directing parents to the community centre.
Repeated vandal attacks trashed Byron's toilets
DIRECTOR of corporate management Mark Arnold said the Main Beach toilet used to have a proper drop-down change table but recurrent vandalism meant it had to be removed and replaced with a metal table.
"Currently council receives about two complaints a week on the Railway Park toilets. These toilets are often vandalised and have had over $11,000 spent on repairs during this financial year," Mr Arnold added.
"This year the surf club public toilets were upgraded at a cost of $20,000 with paint, stainless steel vandal-resistant fixtures and water-saving dual flush toilets."
The repair cost for the shire's public toilets in 2013-2104 stands at $75,000.
The location, presentation and facilities of public toilets will be considered in the coming Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan.
The council's 2014-2015 draft budget includes a new toilet block at Water Lily Park, Ocean Shores and upgrades to the Byron Bay Recreation Ground toilets.