Fernie council discusses invasive plant strategy

Last week, representatives from the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council (EKIPC) presented their findings to the city.

During the Monday Feb. 23 council meeting, representatives from the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council (EKIPC) presented their findings to the city, noting that the City of Fernie is home to many dangerous invasive plant species.

A spreading of oxide daisies near Cokato Road and a family of Japanese knotweed plants behind Dairy Queen are just a few of the species dominating the ecosystem, outcompeting other grasses and resulting in damaged infrastructure, according to EKIPC Field Operations Coordinator Katie Young.

EKIPC is a non-profit organization that was established in 2008.

“Municipal engagement is one of our goals this spring,” Young said, as she addressed council during the Feb. 23 meeting.

Young stated that although the City of Fernie has implemented the invasive plant strategy — a pest management plan meant to provide guidelines for City departments and contractors directly involved with managing vegetation and pests — more needs to be done.

An increase in the current $5,000 budget was suggested, along with an inventory of the invasive species within city limits, an update to the current invasive plant management plan, the monitoring of treatments and more enforcement with bylaws, including the use of herbicides.

“In the bylaw it doesn’t state that noxious weeds are exempt from herbicide use,” EKIPC program manager Todd Larsen said.

Mayor Mary Giuliano, however, argued that the city has in fact made that information available to the public.

Aside from city involvement, Young also noted that residents can also take action against invasive plants.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of their obligations,” said Young, expressing that the B.C. Weed Control Act is a legislation that says all land managers are obliged to manage certain species.

Residents can approach the RDEK through the neighbourhood invasive plant program, a program that helps landowners with the cost of invasive plant treatments.

Larsen suggested that local residents interested in obtaining more information visit the EKIPC website at ekipc.com

“Thanks for putting in your time to represent the citizens of Fernie,” Larsen said as he addressed council. “I think it’s a great role you play and I sincerely mean that.”