An invasive vine is ruining a senior's property

Senior besieged by vine

Chelsea Powrie

Victor Powell is fed up. 

The 74-year-old disabled veteran is fighting a constant battle against puncturevine, an invasive plant with painful spiny seed pods that he says has taken over part of his property ever since the City of Penticton filled in a small ravine behind his land more than a decade ago. 

"This whole area is contaminated with it," Powell said, speaking of the area that abuts his property on Greenwood Drive. "I want them to look after this, I want them to take that out."

Powell keeps his property line clean, he says, always weeding and mowing, but the adjacent City land is overrun with weeds, including puncturevine, which inevitably spreads onto his property. 

"I haven't heard anything from them, and now, it's gone wild. It's even further than it was before, and it's grown larger," he said. 

The vine is known to be pervasive, and notoriously difficult to control once it has started spreading. Powell says that at his age and with his physical disabilities, he can't dig up the plants himself, and currently pays someone to intermittently spray them. But the plants persist, and he thinks the City should be contributing to the fight. 

"Why should I keep having to pay for something that they should be looking after?" Powell said. "They haven't cut anything down, and they were cutting it, up until two years ago." 

To his memory, the City used to send crews every summer to dig up the weeds and spray. But Powell says he hasn’t seen anyone recently.

Todd White, City of Penticton parks manager, said they are well aware of the ongoing issues with puncturevine in the area, and said they work with the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society every year to target weed eradication, likely the crews Powell remembers.

"This year, there is a subdivision going on in that location, so access to that site is very limited," White explained. 

He said he could not comment on Powell's claims that the puncturevine infestation only began after the City filled in the adjacent ravine. 

Powell has been doing his best to keep the spiny plants out of the fence portion of his land, for fear his dog would get one imbedded in its paw. He wishes he could take his dog outside the fence, but is too afraid of the consequences.

"They get it in their paws, and its instant ... they can't bite it, because it would get into their mouths. It's dangerous," Powell said. "Before I go in the yard, I scrape my feet."

At the end of the day, it comes down to one thing for Powell:

"I just want to get rid of it."

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