The Town of Qualicum will present a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) for their annual conference that calls for the control of the rampant and unchecked spread of Scotch broom on Vancouver Island.
Town council unanimously accepted a notice of motion on the issue presented by Coun. Anne Skipsey at its regular meeting on Feb. 8. They made this decision following a request from Broombusters Invasive Plant Society, urging municipalities on Vancouver Island to work collectively in getting rid of the invasive plant. The AVICC conference will take place April 14–16 in Nanaimo.
Skipsey said that due to climate change that has led to longer periods of drought and hotter temperatures, the volatility of the broom as a flash fuel will increase the risk of wildfires. She added that the broom will also negatively impact biodiversity.
Executive director of the non-profit Broombusters group, Joanne Sales, said the invasive Scotch broom is a growing concern that needs to be addressed by Island municipalities. She indicated that they can be the cause of wildfires, impact the regrowth of forests and are also detrimental to the food industry.
“It is a noxious weed on Vancouver Island and it’s time for us to join together and take a stand about this,” said Sales, adding, “we cannot leave this problem to our children. For the sake of farms, food security, our forests and the future, cut broom in bloom.”
Sales indicated an assessment report by the Invasive Species Council of BC that concluded “Scotch broom is the invasive species causing the greatest harm to species at risk in B.C.”
She pointed out broom spreads rapidly, forming dense thickets and crowding out native plants. The plants are also highly flammable, toxic to grazing animals and wildlife, take over farms, forest and parklands and lead to a dramatic loss of diversity.
Scotch broom also poses problems to transmission lines, said Sales.
“BC Hydro says they do not control the spread of broom under transmission lines because there is no pressure from governing entities,” said Sales. “The problem with broom on transmission lines for us is extreme fire danger.”
Another problem the society has encountered in their broom battle is privately owned lands that have been cleared of trees for development.
“But the development doesn’t happen,” said Sales, who cited a property along Alberni Highway that is now covered with broom after it was cleared two years ago.
“The fire chief says again broom is a significant threat as a fire hazard for urban interface fires within our region,” said Sales.
Because Scotch broom is mostly on the Island, Sales said it’s up to local governing bodies to speak out and get the plants classified as a “regional noxious weed on Vancouver Island.”