Joanne Sales, a director with the Broombusters Invasive Plant Society, spoke to council in North Cowichan on Feb. 20 to raise awareness of the invasive species Scotch broom. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

North Cowichan asked to help deal with Scotch broom

Invasive plant needs to be controlled, delegation says

A lot of work has been done in the Cowichan Valley over the years to deal with the ongoing challenge of dealing with Scotch broom in the area, but there’s still lots left to do, says Joanne Sales.

Sales, a director with the Broombusters Invasive Plant Society, spoke to council in North Cowichan on Feb. 20 to raise awareness of the problems that the invasive species is causing, and to seek assistance from the municipality and individuals in the community.

She said Scotch broom will continue to take over great swaths of territory in the Valley each year if left unchecked, crowding out native plants, raising the fire risk, inflaming people’s allergies and causing millions of dollars in losses to the province’s timber sales.


Residents began broombusting in Chemainus and Maple Bay in 2014 after a delegation from the Broombusters organization, a non-profit society that support the efforts of local residents in broom-control programs, appeared before council and has achieved some significant successes since then.

Sales said that in 2018, 545 volunteers from Broombusters spent 5,000 hours dealing with infested areas across Vancouver Island.

“Scotch broom takes over vacant lots and unused lands and is hard to get rid of,” she said.

“There’s a lot at stake here, but it can be managed.”


Sales encouraged council to establish a bylaw that would require people to deal with broom infestations on their properties.

She also said that initiatives by the municipality to hire students and summer workers to take part in broom-control initiatives in the Valley would be very helpful.

“North Cowichan could also consider placing signs up where these projects are underway here to let people know what’s happening and encourage them to get involved.”

Sales said council has a lot of power to make these things happen and encouraged council members to personally take part in broom-clearing initiatives this summer.

“I hope to see you participating in one of these projects starting in May,” she said.

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