PORT HARDY—Mike Desrochers and Mac Willing appeared as delegates before Council last week to warn of the dangers of invasive species and to inform them of a group being established to combat their spread.
Desrochers explained that he and Willing were two of around 20 forest professionals, community members and business partners involved in the formation of the North Island Invasive Species Partnership.
The pair gave a presentation on invasive weeds currently in or threatening the North Island, including knotweed, broom, tansy ragwort and the toxic giant hogweed. Resembling cow parsnip but on a much grander scale – 10 feet high in summer months – hogweed can cause blindness and skin burns on contact. In some cases the burns can be permanent, triggering skin photosensitivity.
While hogweed may be a frightening prospect, the pair were more concerned with the rise of knot weeds on the North Island — a group of weeds Desrochers called “probably the worst bunch of invasive plants on the planet.”
The weed can grow through concrete, undermining structural stability, but the real menace is its tenacity. The pair explained that the plant grows vegetatively – cuttings from the plant can regrow fully. In knotweed’s case, as little as 10g of the plant will regrow in the right conditions. Combined with its extensive root system, this makes the weed virtually immune to being cut back — a 2cm piece of root is enough to regrow the original plant and, if dumped, the pile of trimmings can also take root. The pair advised taking the cuttings to Seven Mile Landfill.
“If you look after your piece of land and your neighbours look after their piece of land we can start to address this problem,” said Desrochers.
Herbicide is the preferred method of combatting the plant, but the pair noted that not all chemical treatments were appropriate for use close to water.
The mayor thanked the pair for their presentation. “I’m glad education is a big component (of the mandate), I’ve certainly learned a lot tonight.”
The mayor shared details of a meeting with North Island College President John Bowman at the meeting.
“It was a real pleasure to meet with President Bowman,” she said. “He seems to have a great vision.”
“He’s very determined that he’s going to turn things around up here. Here’s hoping we’re looking at a new era for North Island College on the North Island.”
Counsellors were unanimous in praising the recent opening of the Huddlestan Trails in the town.
“The opening of the trail was a very special event,” said Coun. Deb Huddlestan. “Thank you to everyone.”
“It was lovely the way the sun came out, said Coun. Nikki Shaw. “It was a real pleasure to be there.”
“The trail dedication for Al was excellent,” agreed Coun. Rick Marcotte. “Well done Patti (Smedley).”
Mayor Parnham received a somewhat belated response to an Aug. 27 letter to Island Health.
The letter reaffirmed commitment to progress in Port Hardy.
“It’s basically reiterating that, ‘Yes, we are part of the plan,’” explained the mayor.