The City of Campbell River says it is making headway on its fight against invasive and noxious plants, but many private property owners aren’t doing the same.
In a report presented to city council at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, the long range planning and sustainability department says its partnership with Greenways Land Trust to chemically treat knotweed and Scotch broom has resulted in more sites being eradicated than new sites popping up, but there’s been a significant lack of response from private property owners that is hindering the process.
This is especially a problem in regard to knotweed. Of the 132 reported knotweed-infested sites reported in 2018, 44 could not be addressed at all due to lack of response from the property owner that would allow Greenways staff to enter onto the property to perform the treatment. Greenways, according to the report, is using extra resources to make multiple attempts to contact owners to let them know the work needs to be done, which “uses up valuable time and sets the program behind.”
Part of the problem, according to Terri Martin, the city’s environmental specialist, is that people may not realize that the notices being left aren’t “requests” that the problem be addressed but an opportunity for the property owner to have the problem addressed for free.
“Something we’re thinking about is maybe getting a city letter (rather than a Greenways one) that says, ‘maybe you’re not aware, but this is a regulated plant and you’re required to treat it,’” Martin told council. “Your best option is to go with Greenways and you can have it treated at no cost.”
Should property owners not take the city up on the offer of Greenways treating the knotweed, Martin says, “the next step would be for staff to recommend remedial action for 2020 that involves council authorization for entry and treatment,” which would cost the property owners in question significant amounts of money.
In terms of Scotch broom treatment, the situation is possibly even worse as far as private property is concerned, as there is concern surrounding the city enforcing its new bylaw requiring property owners to remove the weed before taking care of its own lands.
“Judging by the list of broom locations on private and public lands compiled by BroomBusters,” the report says, “it is anticipated that many more complaints will be coming in as broom is systematically tackled on city-owned land and the volume of complaints could overwhelm staff resources. With the results of the 2019 broom program in hand, staff will prepare a broom enforcement policy for Council consideration at year end.”
In 2018, almost 400 volunteer hours were put in between BroomBusters and Greenways Land Trust to address broom, and the report says “we are at the start of making inroads to reducing broom coverage in our ecological areas.”
More funding will be considered for the invasive species and noxious weeds programs in the upcoming long-range planning sessions in December to address these ongoing issues.
“In each of the reports (the city receives from Greenways), there’s quite a long list of recommendations, and they revolve around additional education, some restoration work, outreach to garden centres, issues around disposal and cleaning all those aspects up,” Martin says. “Those are all contained within the city’s Integrated Invasive Species Plan which has been on our budget for years, but council hasn’t found the funding for that yet.
“Funding that plan would help the delivery of these programs, for sure.”