When the City of Campbell River passed a bylaw amendment earlier this year that would allow them to force residents to remove invasive species and noxious weeds from their property, they knew they had to do more to educate people on both the bylaw itself and the dangers of these plants.
While the final bylaw was a dialed back version of what was initially proposed, it still gives the city the ability to force the removal of the plants should they receive complaints. Their hope is that they won’t receive many of those, however, because they simply don’t have the manpower to go around enforcing the bylaw efficiently without the help of the community.
“Initially, numerous complaints about broom in particular on private land are expected, which could be a challenge for enforcement and environment staff,” says the city’s environmental specialist Terri Martin in a recent report to council outlining the plans for a new communications strategy surrounding the hazards of invasive species and noxious weeds designed to “encourage compliance as opposed to ticketing.”
The strategy will start with a series of four articles produced by city staff and community partners to distribute to local media sources throughout May – corresponding with Invasive Species Action Month in B.C. – a series of tips on the city’s Facebook page as well as an information page on the city’s website (campbellriver.ca).
These articles and tips, the report says, will outline the new bylaw and what it means for property owners as well as contain tips on identifying and reporting the different plants, how to treat and control them and how to dispose of them in a safe manner without risking their spread.
Speaking of risking the spread of these plants, the report says one of the important aspects of the communication strategy is to “help the community to understand the ecological and potential health and financial implications related to leaving the plants untreated,” as well as to “ensure that citizens are aware of any cost sharing opportunities available to help treat listed plant species.”
Coun. Colleen Evans wanted to ensure that people will be able to identify exactly which plants are being targeted by the bylaw and that they will know what to do with it once removed.
Manager of long range planning and sustainability Amber Zirnhelt confirmed that there will be high-quality images of the plants in question accompanying the circulated articles and Facebook posts for people to see exactly what they are looking for, “so that it’s very clear for community members to be able to identify them,” adding that there will also be clear instructions surrounding disposal.
“I think this a big step towards getting community buy-in to eliminate noxious weeds and invasive species,” Coun Ron Kerr said. “Community groups in our town are working hard – Broombusters, Greenways and Rotary – to eliminate broom. To be successful, though, we need public support, and I think this is going to do that very thing.”