The City of Campbell River can now officially fine property owners who fail to remove invasive species from their property after having been asked to do so.
The changes to the city’s Environmental Protection Amendment and Public Nuisance Amendment bylaws made their way through the approval process for at least eight months and were adopted at a council meeting mid-July. Then at a recent council meeting, the city passed the amendment to its Ticketing for Bylaw Offences bylaw adding the fines that can be issued for failure to abide by them.
When initially produced, the draft of the bylaws would have made it mandatory for property owners to proactively remove invasive species and noxious weeds from their properties, but council decided that was “too heavy-handed” and dialed it back. The version that actually passed allows the city to request property owners deal with these plants if the city receives complaints from the public.
Property owners who fail to fulfill that request can now receive a $250 fine.
When the enforcement bylaw was given first and second reading at the July 16 meeting, Coun. Larry Samson wondered whether the city actually had the capacity in its bylaw department to enforce it once it’s in place.
“When you’re talking about failure to remove invasive plants like scotch broom on a regular basis or when ordered to do so, or failure to keep a property clear of noxious weeds and invasive plants, how’s bylaw even going to attempt to be issuing tickets or orders to become compliant?” Samson asked. “If it’s a bylaw, we have to enforce it. We just can’t choose to ignore certain bylaws.”
“City bylaw officers have looked at the amendments in detail,” responded Peter Wipper, the city’s director of planning, “and yes, of course, with more regulations there’s more effort required, but they certainly won’t be going out proactively looking for broom in the community,” he added, saying that the enforcement will be based on receiving complaints from the public.
“I think what you’ll find is that with a robust public education program on the merits of dealing with noxious weeds such as scotch broom, I think you’ll find the community is on board. In many ways, it already is. There may be some property owners that we’ll need to talk to specifically … but I think you’ll see that after a couple of years, things will settle down and we’ll be one of the communities on the Island who has just about gotten rid of it all.”
For more information surrounding invasive species and noxious weeds, visit bcinvasives.ca
You can find information about where you can go to dispose of invasive species that have been removed at cswm.ca and campbellriverrecycles.ca
Infestations, either on private or public land, can be reported to the city’s environmental services officer at firstname.lastname@example.org