The invasive plant species knotweed is growing out of control in the North Island. The Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) is in the process of developing a Knotweed Eradication Program. Pat English, RDMW manager of economic development, says that the district is applying for funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation’s Job Creation Partnership, and is also partnering with the District of Port Hardy, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, BC Hydro, Western Forest Products, and the Town of Port McNeill. English explains that there is knotweed in many areas of the region, with the highest concentration likely in Coal Harbour, with Port Hardy also heavily affected.
Knotweed spreads rapidly through root systems and can be detrimental to biodiversity and increase the risk of soil erosion. “The need for the program is to address the potential liability if knotweed gets into the water and sewage systems,” English says, adding that it can damage this infrastructure.
English says that there are two methods for eradicating knotweed. One is to inject a pesticide directly into the roots which kills the root system, and the other is to cut it back over the course of a few years, eventually killing it off. He explains that discussion so far has proposed Port McNeill as a training ground for crews as there are only four to five outcroppings there and the issue is not as serious as in other areas.
At the June 1 Town of Port McNeill council meeting, a May 13 letter was discussed from English and Patrick Donaghy, RDMW’s manager of operations.
They asked for a letter of support from Port McNeill to include in their funding application.
Councillor Graham MacDonald was against the idea of training occurring in Port McNeill. “They’re going to come here and they’re going to use chemicals and I’m dead against it,” he said, adding that he feels focus should be on eradicating knotweed in Coal Harbour.
English says that it is important to remember that the pesticides used in the eradication program are all licensed and permitted, and will be administered by crews qualified by the province. Crews would be targeting outbreaks on municipal property or rights of way where municipal infrastructure goes. There would only be work done on private land if permission had previously been obtained.
Mayor Shirley Ackland suggested asking for more information on the program and how it would affect Port McNeill, including specific plans to deal with the knotweed, and if and what kinds of chemicals would be used in the process. The issue was tabled until the June 15 meeting.