A stinky situation: High demand for porta potties leads to shortage on Vancouver Island


Preparations are underway for the annual Esquimalt Ribfest, but this year, it almost didn’t happen when the team found themselves in a bit of a stink.

“Everything is the same this year except for that one little hiccup,” said Tom Woods, chair of the volunteer-run charitable festival. “This year was something we didn’t predict, there’s a bit of a toilet shortage going on right now.”

A surprising situation to be in, Woods added. In the past, the team has run into issues with liquor licensing and security, but they never expected getting portable toilets would be the problem.

“We like to call this a giant house party, and we have lots of people drinking beer, cider and wine and everybody needs to use the facilities,” he said. “We have lots of line ups for the ribs and sometimes we have line ups to get a beer, and those are unavoidable, but waiting for a bathroom is not something we ever plan to do here.”

After calling a couple of portable toilet rental companies, Woods was able to secure the 40 units needed for Ribfest.

READ MORE: Esquimalt Ribfest to return this September, organizers say

There’s more demand for porta potties than supply and several Island companies are completely out of rentals right now.

“My company has about 157 porta potties and we have about every porta potty on rent right now,” said Tyler Sheppe, owner of Absolute Septic Service.

Business is always booming at this time of year, Sheppe added, but this year is much busier than usual.

“This year we’ve had such a big demand for porta potties because we’re having two years of events happening all at once, we’re having [family reunions and] people who tried to have a wedding last year and couldn’t have one due to COVID,” he explained.

Combined with the Island’s booming construction industry, it’s led to a shortage of portable loos. But as the summer season comes to an end, Sheppe expects demand will level out.

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Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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