City helps out in broom fight

The city is stepping up to help BroomBusters in its quest to eradicate Scotch broom within the city

The city is stepping up to help BroomBusters in its quest to eradicate Scotch broom within the city.

Council, at its May 11 meeting, approved giving the Campbell River chapter of BroomBusters $1,000 to cover the cost of signs, clippers, garbage bags and gloves.

BroomBusters, which is co-organized by Morgan Ostler and Carol Couture, has been cutting ‘broom in bloom’ since 2013.

Since then, volunteers have cleared broom from all four of the major entrances to the city, as well as spots in Campbellton and a section of Highway 28 west of Haig Brown House.

This year, BroomBusters is putting its efforts into removing the bright yellow broom that’s growing along Jubilee Parkway.

In addition to the funding, council also voted to have city staff work with BroomBusters to coordinate communication material and improve broom cut collection and disposal options.

That will include having the city logo on ‘Cut Broom in Bloom’ signs put up in areas where broom is being removed, as well as tailoring the pickup of broom piles.

Coun. Ron Kerr, a staunch supporter of broom removal groups including Greenways Land Trust and its annual Broom Bash, praised BroomBusters for its efforts.

“They’ve been out cutting broom for the past couple of weeks and they, as well as Greenways, have been doing great things in the community to clean up the broom,” Kerr said.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield said while it’s nice to see groups doing something to control the spread of broom, there are areas being missed. He said he would like to see a priority list of areas around the community that need to be focused on, such as the Tyee Spit where broom is gaining a foothold.

“What I see is – maybe it’s just me – but I don’t see a coordinated effort in which areas are prioritized,” Cornfield said. “I see the efforts of volunteers, be it Greenways or BroomBusters or others that go out and cut broom, and I’m wondering who is doing the prioritizing of the areas that get treated, because I think that’s extremely important. That it isn’t a free-for-all, that people just pick an area that they want to do. It’s got to have rational sense.”

Council agreed with Cornfield and directed city staff to co-ordinate and prioritize treatment areas with BroomBusters and other volunteer groups that cut broom.

Meanwhile, the city has also been doing its part in fighting the spread of broom.

Coun. Kerr thanked the city crews that have been out cutting broom along Highway 19A near the Quadra ferry terminal and along the side of the Dogwood Street hill leading into downtown.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said city crews will remove broom growing in small patches and they also target broom that pops up in city parks.

“We have for the most part eliminated broom from usable places in our parks,” Milnthorp said. “We do the maintenance work and if we see broom starting to grow, we definitely take it out.”

Scotch broom is an alien species that kills native plants, takes over vacant lots, is highly flammable and causes allergic reactions.

It’s believed to have first been introduced to Vancouver Island in 1850 when travellers from Europe brought the plant to Sooke.

The plant, which spreads like wildfire, has made its way north and is prevalent along the Inland Island Highway. It typically blooms near the end of April until the beginning of June and prevents forest re-growth and is toxic to grazing animals.

It spreads rapidly on trails, forest roads and under power lines.

For more information on BroomBusters and its efforts to eliminate broom, visit www.broombusters.org/campbellriver.html