MLA for Hay River North R. J. Simpson pressed the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Wally Schumann to find a solution to the state of highway outhouses Thursday.
After seeing a photo of an outhouse at the 60th Parallel visitor information centre in a bad state, Simpson raised the issue in the legislative assembly Tuesday. Two days later, Simpson says he has been surprised at the amount of media attention heaped on him.
“You never know what will capture the nation’s attention, unfortunately this week it was outhouses. The questions I asked two days ago about the GNWT-owned outhouses at the border have generated more comments on social media and more news articles than anything I have ever said in this house before.”
He asked Schumann for a guarantee to end this perennial issue of dirty outhouses during the winter, once and for all. “I understand that this is a challenging issue, there’s no power out there. But this isn’t a new issue, people have gone to the bathroom since the beginning of time. It’s been winter every year since the beginning of time, so there must be a solution out there.”
Schumann says a winter strategy review is ongoing and he asked for MLAs for support in accessing more money for the issue. Simpson replied it was up to cabinet to put forward money bills and asked Schumann for a promise to put funds towards the issue.
“I’m sure we could get members on this side of the house behind the minister if he puts forward a supplementary appropriation to take care of the problem this winter.”
Schumann says Simpson was ‘getting a little ahead of himself’ with the supplementary appropriation request, adding money isn’t the only issue as these outhouses lack power.
“This is a challenging situation for us and I might not even be the minister of ITI after September 1st, so who knows who’s going to be here trying to deal with this situation,” he added.
Simpson also apologized to any truckers who may have taken issue with his statements on Tuesday and made clear the problem was one of maintenance, not users.
“I don’t blame truckers for the state of the bathroom, the problem is obviously a lack of maintenance during a spike of usage.”