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First broom, now Gorse

Gorse, of course - Auren Ruvinsky Photo
Gorse, of course
— image credit: Auren Ruvinsky Photo

There has been progress in dealing with the invasive Scotch broom in District 69, but some are sounding the alarm about what could be a worse foreign plant.

Gorse (ulex europaeus), also known as Irish hedge, looks a lot like broom, with little yellow flowers, but the stems are thorny and the seeds are much harder to get rid of.

Joanne Sales, with the Broombusters Invasive Plant Society, said gorse is currently limited to a few small spots including Middlegate and Errington roads in Errington, across from the Nanoose Bay ESSO, and most notably the empty lot on Highway 19A across from Parksville’s industrial park.

Unlike broom, gorse can’t just be cut in bloom, but fortunately it doesn’t spread nearly as fast either.

The plants are closely related, they are both high in oil making them a fire hazard, but unlike broom, gorse requires several years of careful

cutting and often requires herbicides.

That means they requiring expert attention, unlike the volunteer efforts tackling broom, Sales said.

The problem with gorse at this point, she added, is that almost all of it is on private property, meaning there is little the public or municipal governments can do.

It is recognized as a noxious weed by the province (unlike broom), but Parksville chief administrative officer Fred Manson said they cannot clean it up because of a provincial law that prohibits municipalities from doing work that benefits the corporate owners.

He said he’s not sure they can do anything under the unsightly premises bylaw and it could be problematic to have a bylaw about a specific plant. He pointed out a citizen group could work on it with the owner’s permission.

Sales, who presented the issue to Parksville council last spring, said the city could pass an anti-gorse bylaw after they were careful to eliminate it from all city property.

After a similar presentation at council last week, they indicated they would look into what could be done.

For more information check www.broombusters.org for a link on the “About Broom” page.

 

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