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Helsinki braces for May Day public urination spectacle

Urination is a natural inevitability of life but where one actually answers the call of nature can cause distress to others. Unfortunately during public holidays, many heed the call just about anywhere.

Vappuväkeä Kaivopuistossa Helsingissä.
Vappuväkeä Kaivopuistossa Helsingissä. Image: YLE

Urinating in public can even be witnessed in Esplanade Park in Helsinki’s city centre during daylight hours.

"This is a problem for which finding a solution is difficult for the city," admits Jarmo Nieminen who chairs the City of Helsinki’s Public Works Department.    

Inebriated youths are not the sole offenders for dampening the parks and streets. Many of their elders are guilty, too.

"A particularly bad example was set last year during the victory celebrations of the World Ice Hockey Championships," says Nieminen.

He notes that tackling the problem is exacerbated by an inability to make the appropriate city ordinances.  If the city could initiate a ban on public urination with the threat of a fine, police could be called in to act.

"But when 2,000 or more people choose to spend the evening in Esplanade Park, we are powerless to do anything," Nieminen admits.

The situation is further exacerbated by a shortage of public lavatories. The Public Works Department is aware of the predicament but a lack of funds ties a knot in their ability to act. In his view, restaurant owners should understand that their lavatories should be available to the public, even non-paying clients.

In the run-up to the May Day festivities, a campaign aimed at combating urination in public known as Stop Kusi! (or Stop Piss!) has been initiated by the local city free sheet Metro and the Convoy advertising agency.

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