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North Cowichan asked to take action against Scotch broom

Invasive plant listed as causing greatest harm to species-at-risk
The Municipality of North Cowichan has been asked to take action against the invasive species Scotch broom. (Black Press file photo)

The Broombusters Invasive Plant Society wants the Municipality of North Cowichan to do more to help deal with the spread of invasive Scotch broom across Vancouver Island.

Joanne Sales, the society’s executive director, asked council at its meeting on March 15 to support a resolution that the Town of Qualicum Beach intends to submit at the next meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities calling for action to stop the spread of Scotch broom on the Island.

She said Scotch broom has been getting off “scot free” on Vancouver Island since it was first introduced in Sooke 175 years ago.


“Part of the problem is the serious fire danger created by Scotch broom,” Sales said.

“Scotch broom increases a wildfire’s fuel load, escalating the fire’s intensity and makes fires more difficult to manage. In the summer, broom has naturally occurring dry branches that have high oil content, and we’re seeing more dry Scotch broom with climate change.”

Sales said another issue is the proliferation of Scotch broom on BC Hydro’s transmission lines on the Island.

She said BC Hydro doesn’t control the broom on its transmission lines because there is no pressure from governments for them to do so.

“We have massive amounts of broom on the hydro lines and this greatly increases the danger that fire could spread across the Island, as well as carrying seeds to previously broom-free areas at the same time,” Sales said.

“Broom spreads densely and rapidly and grows huge quickly, crowding out native trees and plants. This inhibits forest regrowth once the plants get into the forests, resulting in lost timber sales.”

Sales said Scotch broom also negatively impacts agricultural production because it’s toxic to grazing animals and plant life as it displaces grasses and foods that animals eat.


She said once Scotch broom takes over farms, they’re hard to reclaim.

“Land is too often cleared for development and farming, but then some of these lands are neglected for years and broom takes over,” Sales said.

“An assessment study for the Invasive Species Council of BC found that broom is the invasive species causing the greatest harm to species-at-risk in B.C. as it’s a serious threat to biodiversity, so we need to implement actionable steps to control the aggressive spread of broom all across B.C.”

Sales asked why nothing is being done by governments to check the spread of the invasive species, and why it is only classified as a “weed of concern”.

She said that one of the reasons is that, currently, Scotch broom is mostly limited to the Island, and is only now moving onto the mainland.

“It’s up to local governments and communities on Vancouver Island to take action and speak out,” Sales said.

“We’re hoping you, and other local governments, will support the Town of Qualicum’s resolution.”

North Cowichan has a policy not to endorse requests from delegations at the same meeting where they present.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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