Sweep Island clean

With broom now in bloom, Broombusters issue local towns a challenge

Broombusters are confident they can make a broom mountain much higher than this if they really get a strong turnout.

Broombusters are confident they can make a broom mountain much higher than this if they really get a strong turnout.

Joanne Sales is the last person who would make a mountain out of a molehill — at least, not when she can make it from invasive broom.

The head of Qualicum Beach Broombusters this week issued a challenge to both Parksville and Qualicum Beach residents to build the biggest mountain of cut broom possible.

The challenge is two-fold, Sales said. Besides the creation of Broom Mountain or, even the Broom Range of mountains, she’s also challenging the communities of Qualicum Beach and Parksville to lace up their sensible shoes, latch onto some loppers and see which group, individual or community as a whole can bring out the most broom busters to the event, slated for May 18, 19 and 20.

The focus of the attention, she said, will be the highway interchange in Parksville, which is heavily infested with the alien species.

“This spot is just so terrible,” she said. “The broom is completely out of control.”

Sales said Qualicum Beach Broombusters have cleared out the vast majority of broom from within town limits, so they want to help Parksville tackle their own infestation. However, she stressed that it’s going to take a concentrated effort to make an impact on the problem.

“Courtenay is getting their interchange cleared right now and Qualicum Beach is in fairly good shape, so Parksville will be left as a sea of broom,” she said. “Rather than wait around for somebody else to do it, let’s do it ourselves. we’re challenging Oceanside community to show what can be done when the community comes together. So many communities have given up on this, but we want to say, let’s not give up.”

Ideally, she said, other communities that have been infested by the Scotch pest will be inspired by a strong turnout in Parksville to take up the loppers themselves.

To take part in the Broombusters challenge, residents don’t need to have experience or even their own loppers. Those can be supplied.  All they have to do is show up at by the train station in Parksville on Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sign up first for a highway insurance form, then head with everyone else to the interchange and get cutting.

People can also sign up on Saturday, this time at 10 a.m. at the weigh station at Highway 19 and Kay Road in Parksville, or on Sunday, although the location will be determined by the location where the team feels they can come up with the biggest mountain of broom.

Sales stressed that participants should wear a hat, sensible shoes and gloves and bring some water and a snack.

Although Broombusters has about 40 pairs of loppers available for people who don’t have their own, anyone who has their own set is encouraged to bring it.

Volunteers can show up any time during the weekend, or for all three days.

The individual, group or club that brings the most cutters will win the coveted Golden Loppers, supplied by The News.

There will be other prizes awarded as well, Sales said.

“We’re asking local businesses if they can offer refreshments, a gift certificate or something fun to thank the volunteers and make the weekend more fun.”

For more information, to donate, or to keep track of where Sunday’s cut is going to take place, visit broombusters.org.