Weird calls to city info line

What species of ducks swim in Lost Lagoon at Stanley Park, and are they edible?

That was one of the weirdest questions to the City of Vancouver’s 311 contact centre, which handles calls for city information and non-emergency services.

Other calls included: "How do I get rid of the snake in my basement?" and "What time is it?"

There have been other head-scratchers over the past decade as reporters heard Tuesday in a tour of the centre to mark the 10th anniversary of the service.

The centre has handled 11.5 million interactions across all channels.

The most frequent call topic or service request was for parking, mainly related to enforcement, says manager Richard Traer. Other frequent subjects include building permits and inspections, property taxes, garbage and recycling and parks and community services.

Agents have also received calls about abandoned mattresses, and one caller suggested a campaign be launched with the tag line: “When it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

“I think — number one — you just have to sit back and listen to what the citizen says and try not to take it personally,” says staffer Veronika Krajsek. “There are times where you have to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to have to end the call.’”

One caller, hearing the agent’s voice, once said, “You sound so nice! Are you married? Because I have a daughter who is available, and I am getting the feeling she could be your soulmate.”

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