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Call for Langley Township campaign against knotweed rejected

Langley Township will only deal with invasive plants on its own properties.
Joe Cindrich appeared at Langley Township council asking for assistance in fighting invasive species like knotweed.

The Township of Langley has a plan to fight invasive plants, but it doesn’t cover private property.

A July 22 report to council by environmental co-ordinator Justin St. Andrassy said the Township “has neither the resources nor jurisdiction necessary to effectively to effectively remove invasive species from private lands.”

The report was a response to resident Joe Cindrich, who sounded a warning about the spread of Japanese knotweed in Langley Township at a June 10 council meeting.

Cindrich said he has been fighting a frustrating battle on his Langley acreage with the hard-to-kill plant that can punch holes in concrete and pavement.

The St. Andrassy report noted the Township adopted a 10-year Invasive Species Control Strategy in 2007 that aims to reduce infestations of knotweed and five other invasive plants, Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Ivy, Purple loosestrife and Tansy ragwort.

However, the program is limited to Township parks and land managed by the engineering department, such as road allowances and drainage right-of-ways.

There is a policy that forbids using Township crews on private land, St. Andrassy said, and even if it was allowed in order to fight the invading plants it would be “unfeasible, sporadic and ineffective.”

“Any contemplated invasive species control program on private property would have a significant impact on Township resources and would be difficult to achieve an effective level of management due to the hurdles associated with co-ordination, completion of works on hundreds of properties (or more) across the municipality and private property access permissions,” St. Andrassy said.

He added provincial law requires “all land occupiers to control designated noxious plants within said properties.”

St. Andrassy recommended education and outreach programs instead, calling them “the most effective and most appropriate tool.”

The report also called for working with other municipalities and the Metro Vancouver authority to develop a regional strategy to contain the problem.

Council endorsed the report and the recommended participation in a regional campaign.

Councillor Kim Richter was the only member who voted no, arguing something more should be done to aid property owners battling the plants.

“Basically it [the report] is saying we can’t help you,” Richter said.

Councillor Charlie Fox said there may be some steps the Township can take to assist private landowners, such as making it easier for residents to obtain landfill permits to bury the invading plants to eradicate them.

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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