Island View Nursery is expecting workers in hazmat suits to conduct further tests Wednesday after a contaminated plant was discovered at the Central Saanich business. (B.C. Hazmat Management/Facebook)

B.C. nursery under quarantine after spores found on single plant

Infected plant believed to have come from the U.S., through mainland supplier

The largest commercial nursery in Saanichton has been shut down under quarantine, with its 100,000 plants at risk of being destroyed due to spores found on a single plant.

Island View Nursery supplies 2,000 landscaping companies, including many of the Peninsula’s best know gardens, municipalities and attractions. Landscapers typically buy thousands of plants in one order.

The family run, 80-acre business has been open since 2004 and they say the shut-down will devastate them and have far reaching implications for other businesses.

ALSO READ: Seeds of dissent growing on Peninsula farms

“It is going to have catastrophic effects on the industry, because we’re the only nursery on this side of the island that has this volume of product,” says Alexandria Garcia, who works at the farm and whose father owns it. “Our family is just reeling and trying to figure out what we’re going to do, this is our whole life.”

The spore, called Phytophthora ramorum, is believed to have come via the United States after the nursery unknowingly bought the contaminated plant from a Canadian supplier on the mainland. It is responsible for a number of plant diseases, most famously Sudden Oak Death (SOD).

Garcia says many local nurseries buy much of their stock from the same supplier and as the spores are airborne it is possible other farms and nurseries might already be affected.

After an inspection from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Garcia says they received an email at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday advising them they had to immediately cease all plant selling activity. As that is their core business, they have had to shut down the entire nursery. The quarantine is subject to further tests but a 90 day quarantine period is likely to be imposed. An order to destroy all their plants could then follow.

ALSO READ: Farming, climate change top new North Saanich councillor’s agenda

The situation is even more painful for them, as a similar situation happened 12 years ago, where a spore was discovered and they were forced to burn their entire stock.

“Literally a bonfire and spending an entire year hucking plants into the fire,” Garcia says, adding, “The last few days I’ve been driving through the nursery looking at all the healthy plants and it just brings you to tears, we love plants.”

Although they were entitled to compensation, Garcia says it still left them $1 million out of pocket. This time, things are even bleaker as they no longer qualify for compensation.

“The fact it’s not our fault is the worst thing. Anyone can come out and see how tidy and neat everything is,” says Garcia. “My question is what happens if we go under and then the next one [nursery] goes under and the next one. What happens to our landscapers and Greater Victoria as a whole?”

Garcia says it is unfair that they are at risk of going bust for buying plants in good faith.

ALSO READ: Saanich council nourishes regional foodland trust with unanimous endorsement

“It’s like a grocery store,” she says. “If they are selling a product with a recall on it, you don’t burn the whole grocery store down, you recall the product and work back to the factory.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website states “when P. ramorum is found, the nursery site is placed under quarantine and all infected plant material is destroyed. Extensive surveys and traceforward and traceback activities are then conducted to ensure the organism has been eliminated.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Agriculture

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

Just Posted

EKRH operating rooms re-open after dust causes temporary closure

A breach in ventilation during pre-construction work caused the re-scheduling of 24 elective surgeries

Kimberley Council discusses zoning changes

At the regular meeting of City Council on Feb. 24, a zoning… Continue reading

Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank yearly report

The Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank recently held its Annual General Meeting… Continue reading

KIJHL announces Eddie Mountain Division award winners

The Dynamiters’ Brock Palmer is MVP and Top Scorer; Derek Stuart is Coach of the Year

Kimberley/Cranbrook entertainment listings

Cranbrook Arts Programs Tots on Tuesdays will continue until Spring Break. They… Continue reading

RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Explicit Greta sticker linked to Alberta company draws outrage

The sticker includes the logo of Red Deer-based X-Site Energy Services

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, leaves Canada with valuable data in changing market: expert

Vancouver was its largest market in North America, with more than 300,000 customers

Off-duty RCMP officer helps catch Cache Creek car thief

‘This is just one example of how we are always ready to respond to emergencies’

LETTER: Dirt bike trail system proposal

Dear Editor: As a resident of the Tata Creek area, I am… Continue reading

What’s happening: Coronavirus forges on, as world hunts solutions

Japan closes all elementary, middle and high schools until spring holidays in late March

Most Read