Vanier students remove broom

Students at G.P. Vanier Secondary School worked over two days last week to remove Scotch broom.

Grade 10 science classes at G.P. Vanier Secondary, as a real-life application of their Ecology study unit, took to their school grounds last week with gloves, loppers, and sunscreen to remove Scotch broom.

Broom is an invasive species. Originally introduced to North America as an ornamental plant, broom was brought to the Sooke area in the 1850s and since then it has spread rapidly.

In Europe, where broom originated, there are insects that prey on the broom plants, but since North America is not its native habitat, broom grows uncontrollably on Vancouver Island without anything to stop it.

Broom threatens our natural ecosystems by outcompeting and choking out native species. It can also prevent reforestation, is a fire hazard, and is toxic to animals and the soil.

Over 70 students at G.P. Vanier, working over a two-day period, made a significant contribution to the broom control effort by removing the majority of broom plants from their school grounds and from a neighbouring section of Towhee Creek.

The local chapter of the BroomBusters organization loaned loppers and saws and provided instruction on how to cut broom. Timing was key and the students cut the broom while it was in bloom and before it had formed seed pods. They were careful to cut the broom at ground level, below any side shoots, to minimize the chance of it growing back.

In some cases, the students had to brave their way through a lot of blackberry to get to the broom, or tenaciously saw through very large broom “trees” over 10 feet tall!

Student participant Justin Doig commented that, “Removing the broom is a very rewarding process because it poisons our soil and doesn’t allow native plants to grow.”

“It’s been exciting to see the students taking their knowledge of invasive species from the classroom and applying it to the betterment of their local community and ecosystem,” said sponsor teacher Kate Peatfield. “They’ve worked really hard to make a difference.”

Ideally, the students would like to see the stream areas they cleared replanted with native plant species. This would provide habitat for native animals and shade that would deter the regrowth of the broom.

The students would like to encourage others to join the effort to get rid of broom in the Comox Valley, as they recognize that controlling this species will require the work of many people in the community.  BroomBusters hosts many broom cutting events (, but private landowners can also help by removing broom from their own properties right now while the plants are in their weakest state.

Every broom plant can produce thousands of seeds, which are easily dispersed, so removal of existing plants in bloom is important.

— G.P. Vanier Secondary School

Just Posted

Affordable rental housing complex opens in Courtenay

The Braidwood facility will house 34 people at risk of homelessness

Applications open for record bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students can now apply for scholarships… Continue reading

Second Stage Players present laughter and love in We Are Family

Get your tickets early to see the Evergreen Club’s Second Stage Players’… Continue reading

Open house opens access for those suffering from vision loss

Pat Chicquen understands how isolating losing vision can be, which is why… Continue reading

Valley SPCA overwhelmed with 45 cats taken from local property

Many of the cats have never been around humans, or have never been touched or handled.

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Most Read