On Feb. 23, 2021 Jamie Vieira, Manager of Environmental Services for the TNRD, made a presentation to council regarding the Regional District’s Invasive Plant Service, at which time Merritt was given the opportunity to join.
Council deliberated on the matter at the regular council meeting of March 9.
The program offers long-term invasive plant management programs within municipal boundaries, as well as support for municipal staff managing invasive plants on public land. It will also provide financial assistance for residents managing invasive plants on private property.
Councillor Adam Etchart voiced his support, referring to the extensive damage invasive plants had done, not only in BC but in communities around the world, as highlighted by the report given by Vieira.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get involved and make sure that we have prevention, because I know in a lot of areas in the Lower Mainland, from what Mr. Vieira said, once it starts it’s hard to control,” said Etchart.
“I feel that we need to get in this right away to make sure that we don’t have a larger problem with some of these weeds that can cause issues to infrastructure.”
Councillor Tony Luck was also in agreement of the importance of eradicating invasive species in the Nicola Valley.
“This is one of the plagues of our valley, these invasive weeds,” said Luck.
“This is a great program; we definitely need to be a part of this, especially an agricultural valley.”
He also hoped attention could one day be expanded to include invasive aquatic species and fish.
Education and awareness is also a main focus of the program, something Mayor Linda Brown highlighted the importance of with a humorous story she shared with staff and council regarding someone on the TNRD Invasive Plant Committee.
“He watched this presentation, we all did, and all of a sudden he said, ‘I just planted that!’ said Brown.
“It was the Asian bamboo, and he said, ‘Somebody gave it to me as a gift and I planted it in my back yard because it looked so nice!’ Anyway,” Brown said with a chuckle, “it’s now no longer in his backyard.”
The initial cost for Merritt to join the Invasive Plant Service would be $20,000 which would need to be incorporated into the 2022 budget. Future costs would be a maximum annual contribution percentage of 4.5% in relation to the total program budget.
“It’s a small expense compared to the great damage that could be caused,” said Etchart.
The motion that council authorize the City of Merritt to participate in the TNRD Invasive Plant Service was passed unanimously.
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald