Disgusting conditions at City Hall

The City Hall’s unsanitary condition – The Montreal Daily Herald Feb. 11, 1886

The following report from the Sanitary Inspector on the unsanitary condition of the City Hall was then read:

To the Chairman and Members of the Board of Health.

In accordance with your direction, the City Hall has again been examined, with the following results:

Urinals – In the northwest section of the building tiled floors, instead of inclining towards the sinks made to carry off the water, etc, from the compartments used as urinals, fall in the opposite direction, and deliver all liquid matters over the surface of the floors, and unless these are constantly mopped up creates an intolerable nuisance. I would recommend that each urinal be supplied with a constant drip of fresh water independent of any spring or other mechanical contrivance, and that a tap should be supplied, the key of which should be kept by the man in charge, who should regulate the supply of water to the urinals, and at least twice a day flush every portion of the place with water. A gutter should be made to carry off everything which now falls on the ground.

W.C.’s – The closets are in a very unsanitary condition. Paper and fœcal matter was found in several of them. Trial proved that in some places it required the plug to be kept up over five minutes before the contents of the closets was washed out. In one case a stick had to be used to push the paper through the delivery pipe. This results in a very bad smell, which is complained of by persons who frequent the City Hall. I see no hope of obtaining any satisfaction from the present water closets, and recommend their removal and the introduction of some good Nopper closets, several of which are on the market.

The ventilators in this part of the building do not act in winter, and should be connected with the main stack, so that an upright draught could always be secured, and thus any offensive smell removed.

On several occasions the pipes from the W.Cs. have sprung a leak from getting choked. They are not well arranged, as the descending pipes enter the delivery pipe at right angles. This should be cured by replacing the upright pipes from the water closets with curved ones.

The ceilings, which have been destroyed by the overflow, should be replastered, as offensive smells from the urinals and W.C.’s passing through the open ceilings is, at time, extremely disgusting in certain parts of the building. It is so bad at times that in the City Attorney’s office the rooms have to be vacated by him until thorough ventilation has made the apartments endurable. His case, I am sorry to say, is not a solitary one.

On testing the soil and sink pipes, grave defects were discovered. The pepperment was found escaping in the Mayor’s room and on the three flats containing the W.C.’s and in the cellar. These pipes required very careful examination throughout.

To render the building effectually secure the may be necessary to carry iron pipes below the ground and into the street. The contraction of the iron and clay pipes being unequal, there is a pressure on the cement whilst the iron pipes are warm (as it generally is in winter), and when it cools a sufficient space is left for the escape of sewer gas. This is a very serious matter, and should not be lost sight of in making the necessary alterations.

It would ensure a much clearer place if the people were kept out of the lower flats and W.C.

Yours, etc.,
J.C. Radford., Sanitary Inspector.

L. Laberge, Medical Health Officer.

Attached to the report was a letter signed by all heads of departments in the City Hall, begging that it would receive immediate attention of the Board.

The report was referred to the City Hall committee.