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Building manager targets repeat urine offender

Attention Toronto bar patrons in search of a washroom in the Queen Street West area: if you choose to empty your tank in the lobby of the building Alex Hess manages, you may be in for a public shaming.

Mr. Hess has postered his neighbourhood with security camera screen captures of a man relieving himself in the lobby of his building at Queen Street West and Dufferin. The posters are tagged with the bold-type announcement: SMALL PENIS ALERT.

For seven years, Mr. Hess has endured olfactory assault from the urine puddles that greet him without fail every Saturday and Sunday morning in the building's lobby.

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To deter stealthy visitors, Mr. Hess installed bright lights and a security camera in the lobby of the office building at 1266 Queen Street West three years ago. But that didn't seem to stop them - every week he calls his janitor to mop up the offensive puddles from the lobby, left by "all sorts of people."

Last Saturday when Mr. Hess reviewed security footage, he caught a man he said is a repeat offender relieving himself while staring straight at the camera. Mr. Hess saw a golden opportunity to fight back.

On his home computer, Mr. Hess designed a sign with four screen captures from the security tape that catch the man in the act. One picture is overlaid with a zoomed-in shot of the man's face. A large white speech bubble pointing at the source of the urine stream says, "note: small penis."

He plastered the posters on lampposts all over the neighbourhood. Earlier today, he uploaded the security footage to YouTube.

"I figured it would get the most attention. It's a bit of an insult and it's embarrassing for him," said Mr. Hess.

The building's occupants - mostly tech companies - had regularly complained about the problem when they arrived at work on Monday morning.

The test of this public shaming strategy will come this weekend. And what if the puddles persist?

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"Maybe I should rent a porta-potty and put that in our lobby," Mr. Hess said with a laugh.

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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