Nanaimo taxpayers are hoping the $120,000 they spent to curb public urination hasn’t already gone down the drain.

The controversy is swirling around a high-tech public toilet installed in the city’s downtown area on Friday.

Local politicians said it will provide a place of relief for bar patrons who have taken to urinating on streets and in doorways after closing time, much to the frustration of merchants in the area.

But just one day after its installation, an “Out of Order” sign hangs on the door of the costly “Wharf Street loo” – a name Nanaimo citizens bestowed upon the often-debated project.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” one woman told CTV News. “Anything that costs that money for a biffy isn’t worth that cost.”

“I think that Nanaimo City Council is out of order,” another passerby said.

Nanaimo Coun. Fred Pattje said it was “unfortunate” that the toilet became plugged on only the second day of it being operational.

“It’s a less than auspicious start,” he said. “And it isn’t cheap and I will be the first to agree with that.”

He said though the optics look bad, clogged toilets aren’t uncommon and fixing one is easy.

“I would ask that citizens keep things in perspective and regardless of what kind of a toilet this was, toilets are toilets,” he said. “These things get plugged every once in a while, and it’s unfortunate that the mess then becomes so public, but that’s a fact of life.”

Pattje and other politicians have said the public restroom was a long time coming – and that the overwhelming smell of urine that plagued businesses for years had to be dealt with.

The $100,000 structure, which cost $20,000 to install, consists of a modern-looking chrome toilet, hand sanitizer dispenser and hand-wash station.

Pattje said it will cost the city about $10,000 a year to maintain.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island