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HomeBusinessExclusive: Pee and Poo mascots “will humanize” Metro Vancouver, according to regional government bureaucrat

Exclusive: Pee and Poo mascots “will humanize” Metro Vancouver, according to regional government bureaucrat


Bob Mackin

Pee and Poo were not the number one and number two choices for Metro Vancouver’s new mascots.

Larina Lopez sandwiched between Metro Vancouver’s Pee and Poo mascots (Metro Vancouver)

Documents released under freedom of information show that the regional government originally wanted to buy paper towel roll, disposable wipes and pill bottle costumes to promote its Unflushables anti-pipe-clogging campaign. Shellee Ritzman, communications policy coordinator, told one prospective Delta supplier on Feb. 7 that the priority for the April 1 launch would be the disposable wipe costume.

Ritzman switched gears the next day and proposed Pee, Poo and a walking roll of toilet paper.

In an email to Larina Lopez and Carol Niclas, Ritzman said it would take up to 12 weeks to deliver each costume at a cost of $5,000 to $7,000 per.

“Next year, it’s hair. Do we make a hair mascot? The next year, it’s tampons. Do we make a tampon mascot? (You know I would love that.)” Ritzman wrote.

“The message Pee/Poo/TP tells us what CAN go down. It reinforces the desired behaviour. They’re the good guys. We’d need them smiling and friendly. The pee and poo mascots can hand out our branded toilet paper. It’s perfect.”

Early version of the Metro Vancouver Pee and Poo mascot costumes (Metro Vancouver)

She noted that people are obsessed in a bizarre way on social media with the poop emoji and it would be a more shareable photo than someone wearing a wipe or pill bottle costume. Among the inspirations she named were Victoria’s Mr. Floatie pro-sewage plant protest mascot and South Park’s Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

Heather Schoemaker, Metro Vancouver’s general manager of external relations, chimed in.

“People prefer buying from people rather than a faceless brand and these characters will humanize Metro Vancouver while giving visitors a positive experience to remember,” Schoemaker wrote.

After flushing the idea of the other mascots, Metro Vancouver originally wanted the heads of the “brand ambassadors” to be visible, but eventually warmed up to the idea of full-body mascots.

Artist’s design of the Pee and Poo mascots for Metro Vancouver (Loonie Times/Metro Vancouver)

Loonie Times of Mississauga, Ont. eventually supplied the costumes, at a cost of $4,620 for Pee and $4,945 for Poo, plus tax, including interior ventilation systems and storage bags. The company’s clients have included Kellogg’s, Planter’s Peanuts, Kraft, Toronto Raptors and Procter and Gamble.

The mascots raised a stink on social media at an opportune time, diverting attention from Metro Vancouver’s stalled, $778 milllion North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant megaproject.

District of North Vancouver officially halted work on the site on April 10, after several weeks of no site preparation activity. finally revealed that subcontractor Tetra Tech was suing builder Acciona for $20 million.

The project is already running at least $70 million over budget and the site remains shut down. No project updates have been published on the project website since last Nov. 29. The vague, original schedule said secondary treatment was supposed to be operational by the end of 2020, with final completion of the project in 2021.

Acciona is blocking the disclosure of cost and construction schedule documents that requested from Metro Vancouver’s freedom of information office. The Spain-headquartered company has complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and could seek a court injunction to hide the true costs of the troubled project from taxpayers.

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