Letter to the editor—Invasive Phragmites threatens municipal budgets in 2022

Letter to the editor—Invasive Phragmites threatens municipal budgets in 2022

To the Editors,

Municipal budgets can expect to take a hit in 2022 from an unexpected direction. The cost to control the rapidly expanding and fast growing tall invasive species called Phragmites can be expected to add red ink to many municipal budgets.

As Phragmites (Phrag) spreads rapidly along rural roadsides, it has become a significant safety hazard at intersections by obstructing driver sightlines. The dense roots impact municipal infrastructure by clogging drains, ditches, and culverts, causing road flooding and related damage.

Already there are over 1,000 kilometres of roadside with Phrag in Ontario. The current cost to treat and eradicate a single kilometre of roadside infested with “Phrag” is estimated at $6,000. When municipalities work closely with local partners and budget proactively for Phrag control they can limit the spread, protect biodiversity, and manage their liability.  

Phrag also impacts recreational opportunities such as swimming, boating, fishing, birdwatching, and hunting, which is costing local economies an estimated $42.7M annually. Waterfront landowners take a double hit; in addition to recreation impacts, a recent study indicates these property values have been reduced by $357M due to Phrag encroachment.

In partnership with the local municipality and other organizations, the Dunnville Horticultural Society has been actively reducing Phragmites. To be Phrag-free and eliminate this economic and environmental burden, it’s time for a substantial investment by government in Phrag control that supports municipalities and their partners’ efforts.  

Respectfully,

Deb Zynomirski, 

President, Dunnville Horticultural Society

Ontario Phragmites Working Group

Ontario Invasive Plant Council