The need to comply with a WorkSafeBC washroom rule for its bus drivers has forced TransLink to sublet a former auto parts business in Richmond.
For years, drivers of the busy 410 route (a three-hour round trip between Richmond and New Westminster) that starts and terminates in the village have been using local businesses’ facilities, such as Subway on Chatham Street, which were paid a fee by TransLink to allow its employees washroom access.
But it’s understood that agreement has been canned (it’s not clear by which party). The public transit operator — having kicked the tires on renting a washroom trailer and placing it in the parking lot on Chatham — has now signed a deal to sublet the near-2,000 square feet former Lordco office at 3740 Chatham, next door to Subway, which has been closed for around two months.
TransLink’s manager of media relations, Cheryl Ziola, told the News on Thursday that a sublease has been signed with Lordco until the end of August for a “discounted” $3,612 per month.
“Unless we find another (washroom) solution, we will be looking into taking on a new, five-year lease at the premises after August,” said Ziola, who couldn’t reveal due to “commercial sensitivity” how much TransLink was paying Subway previously.
“One of the issues we had with the previous arrangement was that local businesses in Steveston tend to close at around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., so our options were limited.
“We looked at renting a washroom trailer and placing it on the parking lot near the terminus, but it was $6,000 per month alone to rent the trailer and it was doubtful we’d be getting permission from the city or the parking lot owner anyway.”
With 410 buses filing through the Steveston terminus every five-six minutes in peak mornings, Ziola cited WorkSafeBC rules regarding employees access to washrooms as the need to set up a more permanent rest-stop for its drivers.
WorkSafeBC states that washroom access needs to be within 200 feet of the stop and, if there are more than nine employees, there needs to be at least one male and female washroom — and at least two toilets in each washroom if there are between 10 and 24 employees.
The drivers of other routes that use the Steveston terminus — the 401, 402, 407 and C93 — all, said Ziola, are able to access washrooms at the other end of their respective journeys.
It wasn’t clear how much the rent of the former Lordco building might jump to from its discounted rate, should TransLink decide to sign a new five-year lease come Sept. 1.
“All we need there is washroom access,” added Ziola.
“So, the plan, should a new lease be signed (in the fall), would be to sublet the entire premises while maintaining washroom access for our employees.”
Due to the fact it’s only washroom access that’s needed, Ziola said there are no plans to put any new furniture or any other home comforts in the building, which has recently been redecorated and had a new heating system installed by current tenants Lordco.
The subletting from Lordco is, said Ziola, the first time TransLink has entered into commercial leasing agreement in B.C..
“We just got the keys to the building, so I’m not sure when we’ll be moving in,” she added.
Other TransLink driver rest-stops have simple fixtures and fittings, such as a table, chairs and a microwave.