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Invasive Species

Invasive Species and Noxious Weeds

Invasive Species News

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What is an Invasive Species?

Invasive species (plants and animals) are those that have been introduced from outside of their native range and have the potential to negatively impact humans, animals and/or ecosystems.  Not all introduced species are considered invasive or harmful, though some can have a lag period before they become a threat.  Invasive species have the ability to establish quickly in new areas and spread rapidly.  Invasive species are also known as alien, exotic weeds, introduced, and non-indigenous.  Another term often used for invasive plants, noxious weeds, has traditionally included plants harmful to livestock (though currently expanded to include animals in general) or people.  Noxious weed is also a term for legally designated species within provincial legislation (Weed Control Act).

Why Should We Be Concerned?

Invasive species are globally the second most serious threat to biological diversity next to habitat loss. Invasive species threaten our heath, environment, safety and economy.

Ivy climbing - Quicks Bottom trail Photo: CMacDonald

Some potential impacts of invasive plants in Saanich:

  • Degradation of native ecosystems and wildlife habitat
  • Loss of biodiversity, including endangered species
  • Increased wildfire hazards and soil erosion
  • Threats to human and animal health
  • Increased maintenance costs for landowners
  • Reduction or elimination of recreational values (land and water)
  • Economic impacts such as to agriculture and infrastructure

What Can You Do?

  • Remove invasive plants on your property
  • Before planting or purchase: find out if a plant is invasive before it becomes a problem
  • Volunteer your time to help control invasive species in the region (Volunteer Opportunites)
  • Dispose of invasive plants in appropriate locations (see disposal)
  • Don’t let invasives go to seed on your property
  • Garden with native species and help create valuable wildlife habitat (Naturescape)
  • Clean tools, equipment and footwear before leaving an area infested with invasive plants
  • Pass on the word about invasive plants
  • Report new and priority invaders in Saanich to Environmental Services (Contact Us)


Mt Doug summit hauling broom Photo: GORPSaanich supports and coordinates volunteers for action within the municipality on public lands and, in some cases on other lands with priority threats.  Regular work parties happen in many of our Saanich parks and Saanich provides help with labour, materials, clean-up and disposal.  Find out more about Saanich’s Pulling Together  Volunteer Program.


What Is Saanich Doing?

Invasive species have devastated many natural areas in Saanich and in the Capital Region.  The District of Saanich is working within the municipality and with partners in the region to more efficiently manage new and existing invasive threats.  Within the District of Saanich, the Environmental Services and the Parks sections take the lead on active management, outreach, prevention and more.  Saanich staff work on rapid response to new high priority invaders and hazardous species, and support for local community groups removing new and established priority invaders.  Saanich’s invasive species management program includes public and staff education, provides guidance for proper removal and includes bylaw inforcement for the Noxious Weed Bylaw. Within the region, Saanich is part of a multi-jurisdictional working group: the Capital Region Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) for better management and cooperation in the region.

The District of Saanich has adopted an Invasive Species Management Strategy (ISMS). ISMS overview.  

See below for information on how Saanich manages specific invasive species and for information about priority species.

Purple loosestrife Photo: R Mueller

The Capital Region Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) includes all local government jurisdictions in the Capital Region as well as other key partners and major land managers.  CRISP maintains a regional status/priority list of invasive plant species organized by “management category”. CRISP List.

Saanich and other jurisdictions can adapt the CRISP list (such as for the status of species within the jurisdiction).  This process enables land managers to best strategize for and prioritize different invasive species of plants.

The following describes the management categories used by Saanich, CRISP and other provincial partners with a few examples of the many current invasive plants in our region and how they are being managed in Saanich.  (Note: there are many other invasive species of concern, below lists examples of species). 

See the Resources & Links section for more information on new and established invaders.

Please report any species of concern to Saanich (especially species on the Prevent or Eradicate Lists as below, or other species listed as having a special concern).

On Private Lands:
Saanich Environmental Services
250-475-5471 or

On Municipal Lands or Parks:
Saanich Parks
250-475-5522 or


Keeping a “prevent list” enables staff to be prepared for high-risk new invaders that may be close to our borders. (CRISP Prevent List)

Examples in Saanich:

  • Carpet Burweed  Soliva sessilis
  • Kudzu  Pueraria lobata. var. Montana


“Early Detection Rapid Response” is an important part of invasive management, prioritizing the elimination/control of new invaders before they are wide-spread and having major impacts. The eradicate list identifies high priority new invasions or small enough populations that it is still possible to eradicate from an area or region. (CRISP Eradicate List)

Examples in Saanich:

  • Knotweeds Fallopia spp (Alert Sheet)
  • Garlic Mustard  Alliaria petiolata (Alert Sheet)
  • Giant Hogweed  Heracleum mantegazzianum (Alert Sheet)
  • Spotted Knapweed Centaurea maculosa
  • Blessed Milk Thistle  Silybum marianum (Alert Sheet)
  • Policeman’s Helmet Impatiens glandulifera (Alert Sheet)
  • Scotch Thistle Onopordum acanthium
  • Shiny Geranium Geranium lucidum (Alert Sheet)

Please contact Saanich if you see any of the species in the above alert sheets:

On Private Lands:
Saanich Environmental Services
250-475-5471 or

On Municipal Lands or Parks:
Saanich Parks
250-475-5522 or


The Contain List includes species that are too established in some areas to eradicate, but are management priorities to prevent spread to uninfested areas. In Saanich these also include species of special concern such as human or animal health impacts (ex. Poison Hemlock).

Examples in Saanich:

  • Yellow Flag Iris  Iris pseudacorus  (Alert Sheet)
  • Gorse  Ulex europaeus
  • Poison Hemlock  Conium maculatum (Alert Sheet)
  • Purple Loosestrife  Lythrum salicaria (Alert Sheet)
  • Golden Willow  Salix alba var. vitellina


Most people are aware of “established” invasive species such as English Ivy and Scotch Broom.  These species are still a concern, but it is impossible to eliminate them from our region.  Management of these species focuses on control in high value conservation areas and public education to avoid further spread. Established species have been a focus of community volunteers through Saanich's Pulling Together Program. (CRISP Control List)

Examples in Saanich:

  • Scotch Broom  Cytisus scoparius
  • English Ivy  Hedera helix
  • English Holly  Ilex aquifolium
  • Daphne / Spurge Laurel  Daphne laureola
  • Himalayan Blackberry  Rubus armeniacus
  • English Hawthorn  Crataegus monogyna
  • Periwinkle Vinca major, V. minor

Established SpeciesScotch Broom Photo: CMacDonald

Although there are invasive plants that are well established in Saanich, it remains important to contain the spread and protect sensitive areas from these species.  Individual landowners can assist by controlling invasive plants on their properties and properly disposing of garden waste and invasives.  The brochure link below provides information on how you can control some of the most impacting established plants in Saanich.  To have a copy mailed to you contact: 250-475-5471 or

Controlling Established Invasive Plants on Your Property Brochure (Download)

Includes information about English Ivy, Scotch Broom, English Holly, Himalayan Blackberry, Daphne/ Spurge Laurel and proper disposal techniques.


Canada Geese Photo: F Hook

Animal Conflicts are especially prevalent in developed/ urban areas.  Human development (or increased development) within a region results in the introduction of invasive and non-native animals.  It also results in less land and habitat available to wildlife and increases conflicts between humans and wildlife.

Find out more on our Animal Conflicts page [coming soon], which provides information about invasive and non-native animals, human-wildlife conflicts, our conflict information sheet (what to do for different situations), Saanich’s Animals Bylaw and other resources and links.

For information about European Fire Ants visit our information page here.

Saanich Noxious Weeds Bylaw

The District of Saanich has a Noxious Weeds Bylaw, first enacted at the turn of the century to address weeds of threat to agriculture. It has more recently been updated to include other priority plants, including those posing risks to human health. This bylaw is currently undergoing a review process aimed at submission of a revised bylaw to Council near the end of 2014.  (Revision process webpage)

For more information please visit our Noxious Weeds Bylaw Page.

Invasive Species Disposal

Invasive plants are successful in out-competing other plants because of their abilities to spread.  Please plan for disposal as carefully as removal.  Remove cuttings on tarps or in bags to avoid spreading seeds or leaving behind parts of roots or stems that can re-infest.  Most invasive plants should not be composted, unless it is in an industrial high-heat composter for extended lengths of time.

Disposal Locations in Saanich:

YFI Rod 2010 Photo: Richard Hatch

Hartland Landfill (all invasive species)

Place all plant parts in garbage bags labelled “invasive species” and take to Hartland Landfill.  Note: invasive species are exempt from the bylaw restricting garden waste from the landfill.  Invasive species should go directly to the landfill, not in the garden waste section at Hartland.  This is currently the safest way to dispose of invasive plants. See website for hours, fees and information.

Saanich Garden Waste Disposal (limited species)

Non-invasive plant material can be composted at home or taken to approved sites such as the Saanich Public Works Yard at 1040 McKenzie Ave (enter off Borden Street).

The following invasive species can be disposed of at this facility as long as there are no seeds included in the material.

Ivy climbing - Quicks Bottom trail Photo: CMacDonald

  • Scotch Broom  Cytisus scoparius
  • English Ivy  Hedera helix
  • English Holly  Ilex aquifolium
  • Himalayan Blackberry  Rubus armeniacus
  • English Hawthorn  Crataegus monogyna
  • Periwinkle Vinca major, V. minor


Watch for Updates: The District of Saanich with its regional partners are currently working to improve disposal options and protocols for handling invasive plant species in the region.  For more information: Saanich Environmental Services, 250-475-5471 or

Invasive Species Resources & Links

Report-a-Weed 1-888-WEEDSBC

Provincial reporting, mapping and database program including on-line services and free mobile apps.

Capital Region Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP)

“CRISP”: A partnership of primarily local governments and other partners in the Capital Region.

Coastal Invasive Species Committee

Non-profit organization with partnerships throughout Vancouver Island and other coastal areas.

Invasive Species Council of BC

Non-profit, charitable organization working with stakeholders and partners throughout British Columbia.

BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Invasive Plant Program

BC’s provincial invasive plant management program including provincial early detection rapid response, regulatory and management tools, outreach and more.

Weed Control Act

BC’s Weed Control Act information and species listings.

BC Ministry of Agriculture

Non-native & Invasive Pests

Information on non-native and invasive pests threatening BC industries/economy.


On-line tool for invasive plant identification and management information.

BC Inter-ministry Invasive Species Working Group

Provincial coordination on invasive species issues including reports, assessments, information and outreach.

E-Flora BC

On-line atlas/database of vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, algae, fungi and slime molds of BC.

King County Noxious Weed Program

Invasive species/noxious weed program in Washington state, including species alert sheets and best management practices.

Volunteer Programs

Pulling Together

Saanich’s volunteer program supporting invasive species removal and ecosystem restoration.

Greater Victoria Green Team

Environmental volunteer program for volunteers restoring the local environment in the CRD.


Last modified: December 11, 2015