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

Education minister announces new South Surrey elementary school

Additions at two elementary schools also announced

Undisclosed video evidence comes to light in Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

‘They’ve disclosed hundreds of pieces of evidence. Why would this have gotten missed?’ - defence lawyer

Police on scene at a Surrey duplex after ‘suspicious’ death of woman

IHIT says the woman was transported from the home to hospital, where she died

Surrey pushing the poor out of Whalley, public hearing speakers say

‘There is a war on the poor here in Surrey,’ resident Dave Diewert tells city council

White Rock reopens more waterfront parking

East Beach availability boosted for residents, public

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Langley woman recalls last words spoken to mother who died of COVID-19 on 88th birthday

Verna Clarke was more than a senior with dementia who died of COVID at Langley Lodge, she was ‘loved’

Most Read