Broombusting festival for Qualicum Beach?

One town councillor talks about the use of buskers as Pied Pipers

Want some music to go with your broombusting?

Qualicum Beach town council hopes to eradicate Scotch broom with the help of a music festival.

“What we’ve come up with is unique and different, and possibly a whole new concept, but I think it could work,” said Coun. Neil Horner, presenting the town’s Environment and Sustainability Committee proposal for what he called, “a bit of a music festival with a twist.”

“You’ve been to music festivals where there’s 10,000 people and they’re just sitting around,” he said at Monday’s regular council meeting. “I think that energy could be put to use.”

“The plan is to get some buskers, probably five, over a four hour period, and they’re going to wander around the broom, sort of like Pied Pipers if you will, and they’re going to be playing where the broom is thickest,” Horner said. “The broom cutters will follow them and if any people start standing around, the music will stop at that time.”

The festival is meant as a celebration of the success of the Qualicum Beach-founded Broombusters group on its 10th anniversary and a way to push the town’s goal of becoming the first officially broom-free community.

Horner said they have a “bold three-pronged plan” of action, education and promotion to reach what they call the lofty but serious goal of eradicating the invasive weed with the bright yellow flowers.

The action will include community broom cuts, cooperation with the high school and taking aerial photos of the broom problem areas.

They will educate residents “that it’s not OK to have broom,” and as promotion, host the music festival and hold a poster and a banner design competition with $500 prizes for each.

Environment committee youth member at large, Anna Harach spoke to council of a plan to bring her fellow students on board.

“This is my best effort to inspire and utilize the youth at Kwalikum Secondary School, to help the town in its efforts against Scotch broom.”

“There are so many environmental threats for my generation, from climate change and pollution to acidifying seeds and deforestation,” which she said could be overwhelming, “however Scotch broom is an environmental issue we can do something about, at least in the Qualicum Beach area.”

She said that KSS students have to volunteer at least 30 hours to graduate, which they could utilize, and she expects many to take part in the design contests.

While there was wide support around the table, Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer took issue.

Broombusters “do an extremely good job at what they do and now that they’re nearly finished, we have council coming in with a big splash with banners and bands. We take the glory. They did the work. I find that quite disrespectful.”

He said it would be different if it was a Broombuster initiative, “our council should not be a leader in the process, we should support the process.”

He added “I don’t think we as a council are in the entertainment business, which it appears this project is all about.”

Coun. Anne Skipsey defended Horner, saying he has worked with Broombusters and that the initiative would support, not undermine, Broombuster’s efforts.

Horner also countered that they are working with the group and that founder Joanne Sales would have been there but was out of the country.

A motion to have staff investigate the banner, posters and signs for up to $1,000 and the musical entertainment and a videographer for up to $2,000 was passed with only Luchtmeijer voting against.

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