City council was hesitant Monday night to commit to annually funding efforts to control and eradicate Scotch broom.
Terri Martin, the city’s environmental specialist, was recommending council direct staff to prepare a Service Level Change Request to put $10,000 each year towards increased Scotch broom removal on city lands.
That request would be considered in December during 2018 financial plan deliberations.
But Coun. Larry Samson said he couldn’t support that plan as he’s concerned council is going to be hit with too many requests for new or enhanced services come budget time.
“All of a sudden, we’re going to come to the 2018 Financial Plan and see all these Service Level Change Requests council’s endorsed and I think it’s leading down a slippery slope,” Samson said. “Doing these one-offs every council meeting or every second council meeting isn’t a way I’d like to see us go forward.”
The funding for the Scotch broom removal is aimed at increasing broom control and reducing plant coverage, Martin said, similar to the city’s knotweed control program under which annual funding is administered through Greenways Land Trust with the help of an inventory kept by Broombusters.
“Despite extensive control efforts through BroomBusters and Greenways Land Trust, broom is pervasive and is found throughout road corridors, some park edges and other city-owned land,” Martin said.
“Since the city will need to continue to lead by example, the current level of broom control will need to be bolstered to match broom control expectations on private land.”
Martin added that an ongoing list of sites observed by both city staff and the public is intended to help the city create an annual list of high priority sites tagged for treatment, and noted that the funding may not necessarily have to remain at $10,000 each year as over time, it’s expected progress would be made on control coverage.
In addition to staff’s recommendation for council to set aside yearly funding for increased broom removal, staff also made some changes to its bylaws, moving regulation of noxious weeds (giant hogweed, knotweed and yellow flag iris) which are threatening the native habitat and invasive plants (Scotch broom) to the city’s Environmental Protection Bylaw.
That bylaw is now drafted to ban anyone from planting noxious weeds or invasive plants on any property and ordering every property owner to keep their property clear of both noxious weeds and invasive plants.
Samson’s motion, though, to defer the decision on funding to the financial plan also included holding off on moving forward with the bylaw change, much to Coun. Ron Kerr’s dismay.
“Deferring the SLCR (Service Level Change Request) I can understand but I can’t understand deferring the bylaw. I won’t be supporting that,” Kerr said.
“I do support the removal of noxious weeds and my annual battle with them is well-documented. I think this is important.”
Mayor Andy Adams assured Kerr, and the rest of council, that the item will be back for council to consider.
“I look forward to having this come forward with the plethora of requests that come forward,” Adams said.