Pubdate: Fri, 19 Apr 2013
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Black Press
Author: Daniel Palmer


Councillor crafts bylaw targeting business mascots, not sports

A budding business owner's marketing ploy is prompting one Esquimalt
councillor to attempt to snuff out the scheme.

A costumed mascot designed to look like a bong - a filtration device
used by smokers of everything from tobacco to marijuana - has been
periodically seen strolling near the intersection of Esquimalt and
Admirals roads to promote The Bong Warehouse, which opened in December.

Owner Ryan Place said he's being unfairly targeted by a proposed bylaw
from Coun. Tim Morrison, one that would require businesses to get a
permit from the township to use costumed mascots in public places.

"I've seen mascots since I was a little boy for a whole variety of
businesses," Place said, adding he's not attracting unsavoury people
to the neighbourhood.

"There were problems in Esquimalt long before we came around. On sunny
days, (the mascot) sits on the corner of the road and smiles. People
like to get their picture taken with him."

Morrison said he has received dozens of complaints from both
businesses and residents since the mascot began making appearances.
People in Esquimalt are in favour of a more family-friendly image for
the township, he added.

"If this was downtown Vancouver or Toronto, this kind of thing
wouldn't be such a big deal," Morrison said. "But when you're a small
community like Esquimalt, it gets magnified and has the danger of
becoming almost a symbol."

The proposed bylaw includes exemptions for mascot use by non-profit
organizations and at various community events. Businesses using
mascots without permits could be fined between $250 to $1,000 for the
infraction, the proposal states. But Morrison stresses bylaw
infractions are complaint-driven, so most businesses wouldn't be affected

"It's your constitutional right to protest marijuana usage =C2=85 (but)
that's not what we're talking about," he said. "We're talking about a
business person trying to market their business in a public space that
infringes on other businesses."

Place has been cautioned in the past for violating advertising bylaws,
including parking a cube van with flashing lights in front of his shop
and installing oversized signage, Morrison said.

Council will debate Morrison's motion at its April 22 meeting at 7
p.m., and Place said he plans to attend.
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