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

Surrey School District forecasts up to 30 per cent of students will return to class this week

Education Minister Rob Fleming said on June 1, about 60,000 B.C. children returned to school

Video tribute to KPU’s spring grad class also honours Andrew Petter, Bill Wright

‘We still want to celebrate our graduates, their achievements, and their resilience’

Surrey baseball association loses ‘a true giant’ in Bruce Lawson

Longtime volunteer ‘always gave his heart and soul to Surrey Canadian and the game of baseball’

Surrey Mounties respond to report of shots fired in Cloverdale

They took 12 people into custody but found no evidence shots were actually fired

Clover Valley Beer Festival cancelled

Cloverdale beer fest falls victim to COVID-19

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read