The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) may take the issue of dealing with invasive plants to a landowner level.
After its similar resolution passed at the North Central Local Governments Association (NCLGA), CRD chair Al Richmond said the board will now bring the issue forward to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) this fall.
He explained the resolution suggests increasing the regional district’s authority to control invasive, noxious or nuisance plants on private property.
“We’re asking for an ability to require landowners or agents to remove some of these noxious weed and other growths.”
He explained the CRD is under pressure to get rid of some of these plants, but the current provincial policy doesn’t define noxious weeds specifically enough.
Area rancher Joy Gammie said she also works in local weed control, but has concerns about mandating plant removal.
While she agrees invasive and noxious plants are an issue, Gammie added she doesn’t think the problem should be passed to landowners by an enforced policy.
Whether spraying herbicide or using manual removal methods, the costs to ranchers could be huge, she said, adding it might affect even smaller households.
The general course Gammie took for spraying on her own property cost $200, she explained, which also required a licence, the herbicide costs and the time required to apply it during periods of dry weather with no wind.
She noted the residual chemicals don’t typically stay active, but having a lot of people treating plants with herbicides would be risky.
“The health and safety and disposal if there is extra; you can have a lot of contamination go on. There could be major problems there.”
Her bottle of Tordon (herbicide) is worth $1,500, and she said if it rains or gets hotter than 27C, the product doesn’t work and is wasted.
The commercial noxious weed exam cost Gammie another $200 to licence her to work for others, she noted.
“On top of that, I had to buy insurance with $1 million liability. As a landowner, you’d want to do that insurance, too,” she said, adding sprays could contaminate a neighbouring well.
However, Gammie said she does believe, that invasive plants should be tackled.
“We’ve got to get out there, and I’ve done a lot of hand-picking of [invasive] knapweed on the south side of Green Lake, because of the wells.”
People need to be careful, in case their neighbours are allergic, she said, adding noxious weeds, such as the oxeye daisy, are often confused with a natural variety (shasta daisy).
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee (CCCIPC) chair Emily Sonntag said education typically promotes people to control invasive plants on their own property.
Through the B.C. Weed Control Act, and with regulations that are currently being updated to add 18 more plants, she noted local governments could gain the ability to enforce landowner control through bylaws.
However, they have to go through the hoops to get approval.
“Every person with land is required, and responsible, to control invasive plants on their land – all people in the province of B.C.”
The act is “fairly vague” on the methods and options for controlling invasive plants, she explained.
She explained the act’s regulations are currently‚ but rarely‚ enforced by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in this region.
“They can enforce on provincial land, private land, public land, everything. So, I think it’s barely enforced, in that it’s kind of a last resort.”
If passed at UBCM, the CRD’s idea will be forwarded to the provincial government for proposed legislation.
Rather than pursuing the ability to better enforce landowners to control invasive plants, as the CRD hopes to accomplish at UBCM, Gammie said she thinks efforts should be put toward education and establishing weed-free zones.
“If I had to go and spray all the noxious weeds on our range, I’d be belly-up within a week, price-wise.”