City staff seek and destroy invasive plants
While Airdrie residents are enjoying the warm weather, City parks staff is working behind the scenes to ensure Airdrie green spaces are safe and well maintained.
In addition to mowing, weeding and watering City-owned parks and green spaces, staff are on the lookout for noxious and prohibited noxious weeds.
Under the Alberta Weed Control Act, noxious weeds are those that must be destroyed. They include nodding thistle, Eurasian water milfoil, diffuse and knapweed.
In the plant world, prohibited noxious weeds are at the next level. Highly aggressive, they can inflict damage on both lawns and agricultural fields. Examples of noxious weeds found in Airdrie include scentless chamomile, Canada thistle, oxeye daisy, perennial sow thistle and toadflax.
“We have a fairly large group of guys here in parks, all educated in what to look for, and we actively look for the weeds,” said Kevin Brinson, parks team leader with the City of Airdrie.
“A noxious weed can spread really rapidly and can cause a lot of severe crop damage and loss so it has got to be controlled. Prohibited noxious weeds (are)… a more serious threat, and they are very highly competitive.”
Brinson said the parks department’s first level of defense is to mechanically control weeds.
“We pull and weed-eat the weeds to prevent their spread,” said Brinson. “The last line is spraying (chemicals).”
According to Brinson, City staff must follow a number of regulations should it become necessary for them to spray.
Staff must post notices 24 hours in advance when it’s necessary to use chemicals in a public area.
If invasive species fall under the prohibited noxious class, the weeds must be destroyed and documented.
The City of Airdrie is a member of the Calgary and Area Intergovernmental Weed Committee, which includes representatives from the Government of Alberta, the City of Calgary, the Towns of Cochrane, Okotoks and Canmore and the municipal districts of Foothills, Rocky View, Bighorn and Wheatland. As a member, Airdrie reports findings of prohibited noxious weeds.
The Committee’s purpose is to develop a regional approach to halting the spread of invasive plant species.
Brinson said the committee’s work has become more important since Airdrie’s recent annexation of more than 12,000 acres of what was previously Rocky View County land.
A large portion of those lands is agricultural, where invasive species can be very detrimental.
“We are working with Rocky View,” said Brinson. “We are going to be working with the farmers a bit more too. The relationship that Rocky View had with the residents we are going to (maintain).”
Brinson said Airdrie’s parks department gets a lot of calls about dandelions, which are not classified under the Weed Act, but are aesthetically displeasing for many residents.
“We control them with a top dressing, over-seeding and fertilizing program,” said Brinson, adding dandelions won’t be able to compete against a healthy lawn.
Brinson said the City will control large dandelion outbreaks if it becomes necessary, but not where children will be playing.
Brinson encourages Airdrie residents concerned about weeds to call the parks department.
“A lot of people don’t know the different species, but if they see something that doesn’t look right, bring it in,” he said. “Definitely give the parks department a call.”
Brinson said the parks department strives to follow up on calls within 24 hours.
For more information, contact Airdrie’s parks department at 403-948-8400 or by email at email@example.com