A volunteer demonstrates how high Scotch broom has grown in some areas of town during a recent broom bash put on by Greenways Land Trust.

City of Campbell River dials back invasive species bylaw amendment

City will now turn its attention to educating the public on invasives and noxious weeds

The City of Campbell River won’t make it mandatory for property owners to proactively remove invasive species and noxious weeds from their properties, but they have given themselves a vehicle by which to demand it if they receive complaints.

The city was considering a bylaw that would force property owners to “remove or cause to be removed from the property any noxious weeds or invasive plants on a regular basis or when ordered to do so by the city,” but in the end, it was decided – as had been discussed during first and second reading of the bylaw last month – that it was “too heavy handed.”

Instead, Coun. Charlie Cornfield put forth a motion to remove “on a regular basis or” from the bylaw amendment.

“The city owns considerable property,” Cornfield says, “and I don’t think we should make people undertake work that we wouldn’t do ourselves.”

The new phrasing, Cornfield says, allows the city to order Scotch broom, as an example, to be removed from a property “if it becomes a problem.”

“Most of our bylaws are complaint-driven and so I see this as much the same thing,” Cornfield says. “I don’t want people to feel like they’re criminals because they don’t go out there and remove these things on a regular basis, but if it’s a problem, then we have that option.”

The city’s environmental expert, Terri Martin, said that’s an appropriate change.

“I’m very glad that this is going through,” Martin says, adding, “I don’t have any problem with that amendment and I think that we have a good process in place to start tackling broom on our own lands (as well), if we can do it incrementally.”

Martin says the additional $10,000 per year that was allocated during December’s financial planning sessions to scotch broom removal on city property “will go a long way to start knocking it back and reduce coverage. It’s an ongoing battle, because we’ve got a seed bank of 50 years in the soil, so I think the amendment that is proposed is really quite reasonable.”

After the bylaw amendment was passed, Coun. Colleen Evans made a notice of motion that at the city’s next council meeting, she will ask city staff to prepare a communication strategy to help create more public awareness and educate people on invasive plant dangers and management strategies.

Public education was one thing that both Evans and Coun. Larry Samson raised concerns about during first and second reading of the proposed amendment, with Samson saying, “to this day, I still see people dumping their landscaping – I don’t want to say garbage – on the beach,” and Martin agreed that there does, indeed, need to be “more education around invasive plants, generally.”

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