Campbell River launches all-out attack on invasive species

The policy will cover Scotch broom, knotweed, blackberry, holly, ivy, yellow flag-iris, lamium and ox-eye daisy

The city is adopting an aggressive invasive species policy in a bid to control the spread of Scotch broom and noxious weeds.

The city will work with volunteer community groups and non-profit organizations such as Greenways Land Trust to remove and dispose of invasive species, with the highest priority given to environmentally sensitive public areas as well as high traffic and high value areas.

The policy will cover Scotch broom, knotweed, blackberry, holly, ivy, yellow flag-iris, lamium and ox-eye daisy.

The policy was prompted by Coun. Ron Kerr who requested staff report back to council on the feasibility of a broom eradication program.

What Kerr got back was even more than what he asked for.

“I think in this case I asked for an apple and I got a fruit salad,” Kerr said.

“But I do think this policy has got teeth and it’s got a good educational component and I think it looks at the big picture.”

The policy drafted by city staff includes identification and inventory of weeds as well as education and awareness in the community by groups such as BroomBusters, Greenways, and the Coastal Invasive Species Committee.

The policy also includes a $7,400 quote from Coastal Invasive to complete an inventory of plant species within parks and environmentally sensitive areas.

Terri Martin, the city’s environmental co-ordinator, said city staff went with an all-encompassing invasive plant policy as opposed to one that’s specific to Scotch broom because it’s not just broom that poses a threat.

“Of particular concern are those invasive species that are also classed as noxious weeds under the provincial Weed Control Act, which imposes a duty for every owner/occupier of land in B.C. to control noxious weeds found on their property,” Martin said in a report to council. “Knotweed, yellow flag-iris and giant hogweed are noxious weeds that are currently in early stages of control in Campbell River but require further attention under the act.

Given that there is a duty to control noxious weeds and significant costs could be incurred if they are allowed to spread, the city needs an invasive plant policy that includes these species in addition to other troublesome invasive plants such as broom.”

The two species of most concern in Campbell River are knotweed and yellow flag-iris, according to Martin.

Knotweed can grow through small cracks in pavement or concrete reducing the structural integrity of roads, building foundations, drainage systems, and retaining walls.

It’s also a threat to ecosystems.

Yellow flag-iris is very dominant once established and can be costly to remove.

Broom, which was brought to the Island 1850 when travellers from Europe took it to Sooke, kills native species, is highly flammable, is a tripping hazard for hikers, bikers and livestock, and is toxic to grazing animals.

City staff will be providing council with a detailed implementation plan for the invasive plants policy which will include a proposed budget with options to work towards the targets outlined in the policy.

In addition, several non-profit, community, school, and environmental groups have participated in invasive species plant removal events around the city this year.