How pretty can a poo plant be, if a poo plant can be pretty?

The City of Toronto spent $25,
It’s important to know what city facility is lurking behind the beautifully landscaped berm; it’s useful to know where the smell is coming from on those days that it escapes.  But the smell is unmistakeable.  As my kids christened it years ago: it’s a poo plant.  Does it really need an expensive sign?  There isn’t even a sign at Nathan Phillips Square identifying City Hall.  But, my neighbourhood poo plant is beautiful.

The only nicer sign I’ve seen is the “Toronto” sign in Nathan Phillips Square, which cost just under $100,000 as part of the Pan-Am Games budget. That’s the equivalent of four poo signs, but it’s much bigger, much more adaptable and downright iconic in nature.

There's no sign in front of Toronto City Hall, but the new sign in front of my neighbourhood Poo Plant is beautiful. Especially at night.
There’s no sign in front of Toronto City Hall, but the new sign in front of my neighbourhood Poo Plant is beautiful. Especially at night.

“The previous older signs at the Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant were not sufficient to identify the facility which is set back from the street,” explained Lou DiGioronimo, General Manager of Toronto Water in an email. “The older signs confused the public as many drivers would turn into the plant at the stop lights thinking it was a through street.”  This may be true, but the new sign seems unlikely to make the situation better.

The entrance to the plant is at the end of a road that runs from a traffic-light controlled intersection with The Queensway, across from a small retail plaza containing a Sobeys grocery and Shoppers Drug Mart.  The old wooden sign was located right at corner of the intersection, so drivers would know the road is the entrance to a city-facility.  It was removed during landscaping and the new back-lit sign was installed about 75 meters East of the road, where it is not visible from the intersection.  There is no signage whatsoever marking the entry road now.

“The sign forms part of a broader landscape strategy dealing with the exterior of the plant,” DiGioronimo says.  “In the past few years, as part of on-going consultations with the local councillor and local Neighbourhood Liaison Committee, Toronto Water received negative comments about the look of the exterior area at the plant entrance as more and more people have moved into the local area.”

“The cost of the sign was approximately $25,000,” says DiGioronimo. The illumination “makes it easier to see at night time and was designed to last years.”

In all fairness, the plant smells better than before its recent renovations and the new landscaping is a nice addition to the area.  Without doubt, the new sign is beautiful.  Turns out, it is possible to put lipstick on a pig.

Oh, and by the way.  Your water and sewer taxes are going up 8 per cent again next year, on top of the 89 per cent they’ve risen since 2005.  Money well spent?