Esquimalt residents fed up with bong mascot, council hears

Staff to report back on enforcement options to keep bong shop owner from advertising in public spaces

The controversy over a bong mascot in Esquimalt continues.

At a Monday council meeting, council directed staff to look into whether or not the Township has the authority to restrict advertising on The Bong Warehouse, a smoke product shop near Admirals and Esquimalt roads.

The shop’s owner, Ryan Price, has been using a bong mascot periodically to promote his business along Esquimalt Road.

“There was obviously interest in this issue because we had a full house at council last night,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

In response to public complaints, Coun. Tim Morrison brought forward a motion to restrict the use of costumed mascots in public spaces for the purpose of advertising.

The bylaw was forwarded to staff for input, but a second motion by Coun. Dave Hodgins could spell the end for Price’s mascot as well.

“I made a motion that staff research how we could implement something right away, like a moratorium, to have this mascot cease and desist while the bylaw is being developed,” Hodgins said.

Staff will clarify whether the municipality has the power to implement a business-specific advertising ban in the coming weeks, possibly by enforcing provincial tobacco advertising laws.

Price said he’s disappointed the Township is dedicating public resources to punishing a small business, and believes most of the criticism stems from a lack of understanding about his products.

“I’m not going to just lay down. Quite often, you need to fight for change,” he said, comparing his business to a local pharmacy.

Hodgins said the Township is receiving too many complaints to sit back and do nothing.

“I was hoping the business owner would just take the high road and not have this mascot on the street,” he said.

A staff report will come back to council in the coming weeks on the matter.