Coastal Invasive Species Committee


Latest Updates

Invasive Plants in my Garden? Grow Me Instead!

Learning which plants at your local garden store are really intruders in disguise

We all believe that everything we could ever need to create gorgeous, healthy gardens in our yards can be found at a garden center or nursery. It’s the first place that comes to mind when most of us consider buying new plants, picking up another bag of soil, or purchasing a hanging basket to give to your mother for mother’s day. But what if not everything that sits on the shelves of your local garden center or nursery is actually good for your garden and the environment?

Butterfly BushThousands of tax-payer dollars are spent every year to combat invasive species. If that is the case, then why can you buy so many invasive plants at local garden centers or nurseries? It seems a little backwards to sell the very plants that are causing all of those widespread issues. The root of the problem is that most people don’t know that the plants they are buying are not good for their garden or their local environment. Have an old rock wall that you’d like to cover with a trailing plant? Well your neighbor has some excellent English Ivy (Hedera helix) that seems to do the trick on their side of the fence and low and behold your local garden store carries plenty of it, looks like it is the perfect plant for you. But English Ivy ((Hedera helix) is an invasive plant and costs the BC government a lot of time, effort, and funding to remove from old growth forests where it is choking trees, weighing them down, and making it easier for them to fall during a wind storm. The towering giants that have stood tall and proud over the forest for hundreds of years are brought down by the one little ivy plant that cost you $4.99 to buy from your local home improvement store.English Ivy pull SSI

To help inform the public of which plants at garden centers are and are not invasive the province and the Invasive Species Council of BC have put together a program called “PlantWise” and a tool called ‘Grow Me Instead’ booklet and wallet card for gardeners. These educational tools list 26 of the most invasive plants available in the horticulture industry. But rather than just finger waging at the bad invasive plants the program identifies two plants that are good for your garden and can grow in similar conditions and/or look similar to the original invasive plant that is for sale. Take butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) for example; with it’s lovely long cone of flowers and sweet scent it has often been a popular choice in the west coast as an accent bush for yards and landscaping. But this invasive plant can grow extensively if not controlled and all of those lovely little flowers act as an excellent vector for seeds to spread. The Grow Me Instead booklet lists butterfly bush as an unwanted invasive and suggests Lewis’s mock orange or California lilac as respective native and ornamental alternatives. The two plants are the options listed that you can grow instead of the invasive butterfly bush.

GMI Brochure 2013 CoverThe first step in taking invasive plants off the shelves is reducing their demand. The PlantWise program aims to do just that and with a well-informed public and cooperative horticulture industry we can work towards a future where the only invasive plants we have to combat are the escapees left out in the environment and we no longer have to worry about the pretty little plants with a sinister disposition waiting on the shelves of your local garden store.

Get your copy of the ‘Grow Me Instead” wallet card, visit The Coastal Invasive Species Committee Booth at Seedy Saturday, March 5th at the Florence Filberg Center.  Booth sponsored by the Comox Valley Invasive Species Partnership- composed of the Comox Valley Regional District, City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland – have joined forces to combat the negative effects of invasive species on the Comox Valley community.

Coastal Invasive Species Committee:


Holiday Closure: Dec. 21, 2015 - Jan. 15, 2016

Holiday Closure Announcement

The office will close on December 18th at 5:00 p.m. and re-open January 18th at 9:00 a.m. for a temporary holiday closure.


To better serve  coastal communities and the environment, the Coastal ISC Board passed a motion at the November 4th Board Meeting to move the Coastal ISC head office from Victoria, to a more central location in our region, the Comox Valley.  Contact information will remain the same until the move is complete (in the New Year), at that time our new mailing address will be announced. Email and phone will not change.

We would like to thank you for your continued support of our programs and for your commitment to reducing the negative impacts of invasive species on coastal communities.

We wish you warm greetings for the holidays!

Dan Williams, President

Coastal Invasive Species Committee


Coastal ISC August Newsletter is now available

KW crop

The August issue features an update on the Spring Field Tour, AGM and Forum held in June at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station. You'll also find updates on the knotweed control program and other recent news about invasive species in BC and beyond.

Become a member to receive our E-Newsletters as soon as they are published. Please contact us  to let us know about your projects so that we may include it in a future newsletter. Follow Coastal ISC news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter too!

Wanted: Wall Lizard Reports in Greater Victoria

When you think about the various critters you might encounter whilst gardening in your backyard or taking a stroll down to the park in Southern Vancouver Island lizards are usually not the first animals to come to mind. Naturally we have the native Northwestern Alligator Lizard present in the Southern Vancouver Island, and though elusive, chances are if you live in the region you’ve come across at least a few in your lifetime. The new character on the scene however is the European Wall Lizard; a species that looks quite similar to the native alligator lizard in size but differs in shape and colour. The tails on these slim wall lizards are generally twice as long as the body of the animal and the colouring on their backs usually ranges between green to brown with small black blotches and bright blue spots along the sides of male lizards. The lizards were first introduced to the Greater Victoria area when a private zoo in Saanich was closed down in the 1970s and the animals were set loose or escaped from the building.

wall lizard and alligator lizard combo pic

 European Wall Lizard                                                                  Northwestern Alligator Lizard

These little lizards are commonly found basking in the sun on concrete, rock, wood or asphalt surfaces or hunting for food in gardens, bushes and other similar environments. Hibernating between November and March the wall lizards are usually first seen on warm days in the early spring and can then be spotted easily throughout the warmer summer months and into the early fall. Currently these little invaders are concentrated around the Brentwood Bay area and throughout central Saanich but they have also been reported in a variety of other locations throughout most of the Greater Victoria region.

If you happen to come across a European wall lizard it is best to report the location to either the Royal BC Museum or the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT). If reporting to the museum e-mail Gavin Hanke, the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include, if possible, the date you saw the lizard, where it was seen, any additional details about the location, and a photo if you were able to get one. To report to HAT the easiest thing to do is use their open google map that allows for members of the public to drop a pin at a new sightings location directly onto the map. Directions on how to go about using the map to do so can be seen here: Additionally reports can be e-mailed in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the same details that you would send to the Royal BC Museum.

Media Release: Local Municipalities in the Comox Valley Join Forces to Tackle Aggressive Knotweed

The BC provincial government has declared June as invasive species action month, and the Comox Valley will be tackling invasive knotweed again this year. This successful regional program, first launched in 2013, includes all four local governments, the Town of Comox, City of Courtenay, Village of Cumberland and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), in partnership with the Coastal Invasive Species Committee (Coastal ISC). The goals are to verify all knotweed reports within these jurisdictions to provide professionals to conduct treatments on select sites.

Knotweed is considered one of the world's worst invaders. It is a hollow stem shrub, native to Asia that resembles bamboo. It can grow up to 4 centimetres a day and causes serious damage to found

Knot on my property Cover thumb

ations, driveways, and septic system, as well as natural to habitats. In the UK, Japanese knotweed has spread rampantly and now homeowners cannot secure mortgages or insurance on properties with knotweed. Cutting, mowing, and pulling can stimulate shoot growth and may cause roots to spread further, resulting in new infestations up to 20 metres away. As well, knotweed has the ability to regenerate from a very small root or stem fragment and can remain dormant for many years.

Local residents in CVRD's electoral areas can benefit from subsidized treatments by stem injection this summer, while knotweed treatments in Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland will focus on public lands.

Coastal ISC appreciates the cooperation of all residents in addressing knotweed. Reporting knotweed is very important in all jurisdictions regardless of whether it is growing on public or private lands. By knowing where it is growing, the various authorities can map the occurrences and understand the potential for spread of the plant over time. The Coastal Invasive Species Committee is asking the public to report sightings of knotweed until mid-July by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 1-250-857-2472.

"Knotweed is causing a huge headache across British Columbia, but with the public's help we can prevent it from taking over our coastal communities. It's an invasive and aggressive plant that spreads easily and can impact property values, the environment, and can cause safety issues on roadways. This regional program will save considerable taxpayer dollars. Visit, or pick up a booklet from your local government to learn how to defend your property from invasion" explains Rachelle McElroy, Executive Director of the Coastal ISC.
"The spread of knotweed has serious ecological and economic impacts," said Edwin Grieve, chair of the Comox Valley Regional District electoral area services committee. "As it is difficult to control once it is fully established, this is a great opportunity to work with our local governments region-wide to proactively address this infestation."

"We're happy to be working with our local government partners and private residents to manage this destructive invader. Nature knows no jurisdictional boundaries, so this type of collaboration is critical," added Mayor of Courtenay, Larry Jangula.

A knotweed alert sheet, providing information on identification, proper disposal, and reporting options has been developed and is available on the CVRD website at For more information on identification of this plant and its damaging impacts, as well as other invasive species that are being managed in your area please visit: and click on the "Invasive Species" tab.


Date: June 29, 2015
Location: Comox Valley, BC


Media contacts:
Rachelle McElroy, Executive Director, Coastal Invasive Species Committee. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Phone: 250-857-2472
Doug DeMarzo, Manager of Parks, Comox Valley Regional District. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone: 250-334-6053
Nancy Hofer, Environmental Planner, City Of Courtenay. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: 250-334-4441
Kevin McPhedran, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator. Village of Cumberland. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: 250-336-2291
Allan Fraser, Parks Superintendent, Town of Comox. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: (250) 339-2421


Knotweed Control Program Launched in Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach

Building on the success of other regional approaches to tackle knotweed, a new regional partnership with the City of Nanaimo, the City of Parksville, the Town of Qualicum Beach and Coastal ISC is starting this summer. This program is funded through a partnership delivery model to maximize on-the-ground treatment efforts and help build local capacity.

Local governments are making a significant contribution in their communities by supporting knotweed control programs this summer. Residents in these municipalities can benefit from subsidized treatment by qualified invasive plant technicians through stem injection.  We are asking resdients to report knotweed on their property until mid-July. Treatments will take place in July and August.  If you think you have knotweed on your property, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-250-857-2472.

Read the press release.

 Knotweed asphalt  KOMP


Announcing Invasive Species Action Month


The BC government has officially proclaimed June 2015 as Invasive Species Action Month. As part of Invasive Species Action Month, people in British Columbia are encouraged to learn more about non-native plants and animals that can damage the province's ecosystems. For example, people can get directly involved by downloading the free "Report-a-Weed" app for iPhones or Android smartphones and submit reports on invasive plant sightings anywhere in BC. Read more.


Regional Committees and stewardship organizations across BC are hosting an exciting array of events and activities to raise awareness of invasive species and their impacts to BC. If you have any invasive species projects or events to share, let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Coastal ISC is hosting a 10th annual Spring Field Tour, AGM and Forum on June 12 to discuss invasive species and climate change. We hope to see you there! Register online here.

Coastal is also expanding the regional approach to tackle knotweed on central Vancouver Island. Building on the recent success of the Comox Valley Invasive Plant Partnership and other programs on Vancouver Island, the partnership has expanded with the Town of Qualicum Beach, the City of Parksville, and the City of Nanaimo. If you think you have knotweed on your property, the Coastal Invasive Species Committee can help. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-250-857-2472.

How Will You Take Action?

There are many ways to take action against invasive species: at home, in the garden, at work, on vacation and with your pets and aquariums. Each week in June, visit the Invasive Species Action Month website for information about key invasive species issues and actions we all can take to prevent their spread. Weekly themes will be featured:

Week 1: Don't Let It Loose! Be a responsible pet owner
Week 2: Invasive Plants: Horticulture and Agriculture: PlantWise, gardening tips, ranching
Week 3: Aquatic Invasive Species: Clean Drain Dry, mussel and aquatic plant identification
Week 4: Outdoor Recreation: Burn it where you Buy it; Play Clean Go


2015 Spring Field Tour, AGM and Forum


Thank you to everyone who attended Coastal ISC's 10th annual Spring Forum and AGM on June 12th.  It was a very productive day that started off with informative field tours where we learned about Spartina control trials and saltmarsh restoration, followed by several excellent presentations in the afternoon.   Several new Directors have joined and we welcome them aboard.

Click here for the full agenda and list of speakers.

Read Coastal ISC highlights from 2014 and a look back at 10 years of milestones!


May 2015 Coastal ISC Newsletter Now Available!

spartina p AM 3 smallYou'll find details about our upcoming Spring Forum, Field Tour & AGM, to be held at the Deep Bay Field Station on June 12th. Early Bird registration is open – register today!

The May issue also features Coastal ISC staff updates and news about several invasive species in BC, including aquatic mussels and fire ants. Coastal ISC is seeking new members for our Board of Directors so please contact us if you are interested!  Click here to see the complete May issue.

Become a member to receive our E-Newsletters at time of publishing. Previous Coastal ISC newsletters are available here. Be sure to follow Coastal ISC news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter too!



2014 Carpet Burweed Workshop: Presentations Now Available!

On March 12th 2014, Coastal ISC and BC Parks hosted a workshop in Nanaimo to discuss treatment methods for carpet burweed.  Attendees included scientists, project coordinators, volunteers, and park managers from the provincial and federal government, local municipalities, industry, and nongovernment organizations.  

The goals of the workshop were to share knowledge on treatment strategies and successes, to determine what treatments are most effective, and to identify future strategies and approaches. 

Click here to find a Summary and Literature review about carpet burweed that resulted from this workshop.

Presentations (PDF format):

- Overview of carpet burweed ecology/phenology - Dave Polster, Polster Environmental Services (7.2 Mg)

- Carpet burweed in Ruckle Provincial Park - Tory Stevens, BC Parks, and Kathy Reimer, Ruckle Park volunteer (1.5 Mg)

- Carpet burweed research in Ruckle Provincial Park - Sally John and Jean Brouard, Isabella Point Forestry Consultants (3.2 Mg)

- Trials and tribulations with carpet burweed at Rathtrevor Provincial Park - Dave Polster and Drew Chapman (no slideshow presented)

- Carpet burweed treatment approaches in Victoria - Thomas Munson, City of Victoria (2.5 Mg)

- Treatment success of carpet burweed at Fort Rodd Hill - Aimee Pelletier, Parks Canada (1 Mg)

- Treatment approaches and successes with carpet burweed - Chris Hyde-Lay, City of Oak Bay, and Marilyn Fuchs, CRD Parks (no slideshow presented)


We thank everyone who participated in this workshop!  Please contact us with any questions.

Coastal ISC

  BC Parks


Page 3 of 7