Saanich halts herbicide use at Kings Park greenspace amid neighbourhood outcry

Municipality planned to apply Garlon XRT to target invasive plant species

Residents living near the Kings Park greenspace in Saanich were panicked when signs warning of an upcoming pesticide application set to begin April 6 and contacted the municipality to ask that it pause the initiative. (Photo courtesy Rob Vanzella)

A herbicide application process planned for Kings Park in Saanich was paused after the community expressed concern about the environmental impacts.

On April 1, signs were posted in the greenspace along Bowker Creek bounded by Richmond and Kings roads, warning that a pesticide called Garlon XRT would be applied in the area the following week starting on April 6. According to the signs, the targeted pest, lesser celandine, is among the Capital Regional District’s priority invasive species as it spreads quickly and is toxic to mammals.

“The community is super engaged and the nature space is well-used,” so neighbours were quick to take notice of the signs, said Rebecca Sterritt, an area resident and member of the community group campaigning to protect the park. A flurry of texts was sent as “people just panicked” about a herbicide being sprayed in the area and the possible impacts on people and wildlife.

READ ALSO: Herbicide used to target ‘priority’ invasive species in Saanich park

As it was a holiday weekend, advocates were worried they wouldn’t have time to stop the spraying, but by Tuesday morning, Mayor Fred Haynes had directed staff to hold off to allow for community consultation. He noted that he’d received many calls and emails from concerned residents over the weekend and saw a need to act quickly.

An owl that recently took up residence in Kings Park was spotted eating a crawfish it caught in Bowker Creek on April 1. (Photo courtesy Deanna Pfeifer)

The herbicide, which has an active ingredient called triclopyr, could end up in the creek which may negatively impact wildlife in the area as well as salmon restoration efforts downstream, he said.

In January, when Saanich was applying Garlon XRT in Sayward Hill Park, Eva Riccius, senior manager of parks, explained that the herbicide is only used to target priority invasives – including knotweed, shiny geranium, lesser celandine, garlic mustard, gorse and English holly – while others can be pulled by hand.

READ ALSO: Saanich extends deadline for $2.75-million Kings Park fundraising

Garlon XRT is applied directly to plants, not sprayed, and is only used “as a last resort” across the region, she explained at the time. As a precaution, park users are advised to avoid handling the treated plants for 24 hours after application.

Kings Park neighbours have expressed interest in working with Saanich staff to remove the lesser celandine by hand to avoid the use of chemicals, Sterritt said. While this may not be possible, she’s hopeful that a collaborative approach will allow an alternative solution to be reached.

She added that it was “pretty neat” to see the municipality respond so quickly to residents’ concerns.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dancers, signholders show support for Fairy Creek in Victoria

A flash mob at the legislature and signs on an overpass

Wild Wise Sooke is urging the public to be bear aware. (Photo by Brian Rundle)
Wild Wise Sooke reminds public to be aware of bears

Residents asked to be mindful of their garbage habits, not to draw in wildlife

Staff celebrate the opening of the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre adjacent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in March 2001. (Photo provided by Provincial Health Services Authority)
Victoria cancer centre marks two decades of saving lives

BC Cancer – Victoria is B.C.’s second largest cancer centre

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

Katie Hamilton is one of three Victoria residents receiving a $10,000 podcast production grant from Telus Storyhive. Her podcast, Her Love of Sport, will take listeners through stories from women in the sports industry. (Courtesy of Katie Hamilton)
Three local podcasts coming to Victoria following Telus Storyhive grants

Victoria podcasts chosen out of 700 applications to receive $10,000

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dancers, signholders show support for Fairy Creek in Victoria

A flash mob at the legislature and signs on an overpass

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read