The Weed Control Act has a great history in Alberta and has been proclaimed in one version or another for over a century (initially in 1907). First established to limit the effects of Canada Thistles on agricultural land, and then as time went on and more and more weeds started to become a problem, the focus was expanded.
The current Weed Control Act was updated in 2010 and has a total of 48 Prohibited Noxious weeds and 30 Noxious weeds. In the Act, municipalities have the authority to elevate weeds to either noxious or prohibited noxious based on local needs. For this reason the County of Newell has elevated scentless chamomile, leafy spurge and dodder to the prohibited noxious category, and have elevated common burdock, common milkweed and showy milkweed to the noxious category.
Weeds regulated under the act fit into two categories;
- Prohibited noxious – these weeds pose a serious threat to agriculture, recreation and/or the environment and are at population levels low enough to eradicate. Prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed so they do not produce seed or spread to infest other lands.
- Noxious weeds must only be controlled as to limit the spread of the weed from parcel to parcel. Noxious weeds still pose a significant threat to agriculture, recreation and the environment in general but are at infestation levels too high to fully eradicate.
In an effort to monitor infestation levels, perform adequate control measures and aid producers in effectively controlling regulated weeds four (4) Vegetation Management Technicians are hired annually. The individuals work under direction of the Manager of Agricultural Services and are responsible for the effective administration of the Weed Control Act and County of Newell policies that relate to weed control. The County has policy in place that allows municipal Vegetation Management Technicians the opportunity to spray for landowners at no charge in the first year a noxious weed is found, and any subsequent years on a cost recovery basis. For full details of this policy please refer to Private Weed Control Policy in the County of Newell Policy Handbook.
If at any time enforcement measures are needed under the Weed Control Act, the Vegetation Management Technicians have the right to issue a Remedy to Control Weeds Order (Weed Notice) on the landowner. This notice provides information on the location of the weed, what weed(s) were found and it lays out the remedy actions required to control the weed. In instances where the landowner refuses to cooperate, the notice is binding, and the Vegetation Management Technicians have the right to perform the control measure and charge the landowner for the service, or they can recommend hiring a contractor at the owner's expense. This is a last resort option for the County of Newell, it is the belief of the ASB that working together is the best method to eliminate the risk posed by weeds.
In the instance of prohibited noxious weeds, a “Weed Notice” is required to be issued, the weed must be mapped, and all info is to be submitted to the Alberta Government.
Under this legislation, the County of Newell is also responsible for licensing of seed cleaning plants and mechanisms. This is an annual process and is done in four locations across the County.