Vancouver’s Pee and Poo mascots are an unfortunate necessity

We deserve all the ridicule we get until we learn how to properly dispose of waste

Photo courtesy of Gabor Monori via Unsplash

19/05/19: This story was corrected from an older version. The waste management campaign was incorrectly attributed to The City of Vancouver instead of Metro Vancouver.

By: Ben McGuinness, SFU Student

Metro Vancouver recently unveiled two new mascots: Pee and Poo, who look like, well, an engorged droplet of pee and a hefty lump of poo. Reactions to the pair have included jokes, insults, and disgust at the explicitness of the characters. A sardonic tone underlies the spectrum of reactions, with everyone wondering if the region really needed to resort to such a childish campaign.

I’m not a fan of the overexposure of emojis (especially the poop emoji which Poo resembles), nor of capitalist bureaucrats’ transparent attempts to plug into youth pop culture like digital narcs. And I’m definitely not a fan of Pee and Poo — can you imagine meeting these two on the street?

However, since the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) has to deal with our waste, it’s the GVRD who gets to decide whether we need Pee and Poo. And if the problems that still plague our sewage system are anything to go by, then as ridiculous as they are, Pee and Poo are definitely necessary.

Dental floss, condoms, feminine hygiene products, and items with thick fibres like paper towels are just some of the things that shouldn’t be flushed. Yet they’re regularly found in our sewers. It’s unlikely that people chucking these things down the toilet are deliberately making things hard for the region, but our sewer system is only designed to manage human waste and toilet paper — that’s it. If people aren’t aware of that already, it’s time to shock the lesson into them.

Some may see Pee and Poo as the GVRD being childish, obscene, or patronizing. But the very fact that officials feel the need to employ such juvenile mascots for something so simple is a reflection of how Vancouverites treat the region’s sewage system. I’m not looking forward to seeing Pee and Poo around events in Vancouver, but the sooner we learn to use our toilets properly, the sooner we can put these mascots and the mockery they’ve inspired behind us.

For now, this is a time to reflect on all the different waste management services we take for granted, and to remember the impact we each have on them. The waste we humans produce does not magically disappear. Someone is given the never-ending task of keeping it from sight and mind.

If we’re making this task harder than it already is, then we deserve Pee and Poo, and all the laughter and finger-pointing that comes with them.