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Broom busters hoping united Vancouver Island front can help defeat invasive weed

Motion on busting broom coming to this spring’s Vancouver Island municipal convention
Broombusters Invasive Plant Society and volunteers work to cut broom in bloom. (PQB News file photo)

Scotch broom is expected to be on the agenda at an upcoming Vancouver Island municipal summit.

Broombusters Invasive Plant Society made a presentation at the City of Nanaimo council meeting Monday, Feb. 6, advising that the Town of Qualicum Beach will be putting forward a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in Nanaimo in April regarding the rampant and unchecked spread of Scotch broom on Vancouver Island.

Executive director of the non-profit group, Joanne Sales, told Qualicum Beach council on Jan. 18 that the invasive Scotch broom is a growing concern that needs to be addressed by Island municipalities. She indicated that they can be the cause of wildfires, impact the regrowth of forests and are also detrimental to the food industry.

“It is a noxious weed on Vancouver Island and it’s time for us to join together and take a stand about this,” said Sales, who added, “we cannot leave this problem to our children. For the sake of farms, food security, our forests and the future, cut broom in bloom.”

READ MORE: Group calls for private companies to clear Scotch broom on their Island properties

Sales stated an assessment report was made by the Invasive Species Council of B.C., which concluded that “Scotch broom is the invasive species causing the greatest harm to species at risk in B.C.”

She pointed out that the broom spreads rapidly, forming dense thickets and crowding out native plants. The plants are also highly flammable, toxic to grazing animals and wildlife, take over farms, forest and parklands and lead to a dramatic loss of diversity.

Scotch broom also poses problems to transmission lines, said Sales.

“B.C. Hydro says they do not control the spread of broom under transmission lines because there is no pressure from governing entities,” said Sales. “The problem with broom on transmission lines for us is extreme fire danger.”

Another problem the society has encountered in their broom battle is privately owned lands that have been cleared of trees for development.

“But the development doesn’t happen,” said Sales, who cited a property along Alberni Highway that is now covered with broom after it was cleared two years ago.

“The fire chief says again broom is a significant threat as a fire hazard for urban interface fires within our region,” said Sales.

Because Scotch broom is mostly on the Island, she said, it’s up to local governing bodies to speak out and get the plants classified as a “regional noxious weed on Vancouver Island.”

Sales said the wording of the Qualicum Beach resolution isn’t yet finalized, but will be something along the lines of asking the province to establish and implement steps to control the spread of Scotch broom, including the creation of broom-free fire breaks, and encouraging municipal governments to use bylawas and policies to control the spread of the weed within urban boundaries.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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