Council eyes cuts to yellow menace

Joanne Sales, founder and director of Broombusters, was able to whip up North Cowichan councillors May 7 over the yellow invader that plagues the sides of roads and any other open space it can find.

Given the opportunity, it was clear the whole group would have grabbed the appropriate loppers and headed out to "cut the bloomin’ broom."

Because, Sales said, that is the whole point: to effectively eliminate the invasive Scotch broom that is such a scourge on Vancouver Island, it must be cut down, not pulled up, while it is blooming.

Which means now. "It only works in May. You have to cut the plant down at ground level. It will die. Don’t pull up the roots, stop trying to do it when the seed pods form and don’t do it in the rainy season. It’s a very small window."

Sales urged council to take advantage of the volunteers who were just waiting to be sent to work.

"Do you have a contingent of volunteers ready in the Cowichan Valley?" Coun. Al Siebring asked.

"Yes, we do. But even if you only get five people out, you’d be surprised how quickly it comes down. People love to cut down broom," she replied, adding, "You have to decide on specific areas. It’s not a free-for-all," she advised. "It can be done. It’s not that hard."

She suggested that a chipper was all that is needed to get rid of the blooming broom that was cut down.

Councillors directed staff to come back with some recommendations, given that municipal land, equipment or workers might be part of the project. Coun. Ruth Hartmann, who said she had been pulling broom up by the roots, was glad to learn how to attack it correctly.

Coun. Jennifer Woike urged speed. "I’d want to see that report by May 21. Then we could initiate the process and get going while we still have time," she said. On Friday, the provincial government announced a grant of $7,000 to North Cowichan to help fight invasive species.