Island View Nursery in Central Saanich is planning to close its doors, after an inspection found a plant pathogen on a single plant.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted testing around one and-a-half weeks ago, and found Phytophthora ramorum — also known as sudden oak death.
As a result inspectors showed up on Wednesday and quarantined a 10-metre area around the suspected plant. Everything in the radius and beyond could be burned as a result.
It’s something owner John Garcia says he can’t face again.
“After this we no longer have the incentive to grow trees or plants,” said Garcia.
Back in 2007, the same pathogen was found that resulted in all of the nursery’s stock to be burned. Thousands of products across 80 acres of land were destroyed.
Even after compensation, which no longer is part of the program, the business was out one-million dollars.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement that “the area with the highest risk of establishment for the disease in Canada is south coastal British Columbia,” and that “It can cause mortality in several oak tree species and also causes twig and foliar diseases in numerous native and non-native ornamental plants, shrubs, and tree.”
They add that are committed to working with stakeholders to prevent movement of P. ramorum and that the principles employed in the protocal are similar to those employed by the United States and the European Union.
Garcia agrees the diseased plants need to be dealt with, but he thinks the current protocol is too extreme. He says the threat from the pathogen is only rated as medium in the province and is already present in our environment.
The business sources their plants from suppliers in the province. However, the plants from those sources may have come from the United States.
Even if the area destroyed is smaller this time, the business says they can no longer afford to risk it happening again. As the quarantine continues all host plants will also be barred from sales — around 70 per cent of the inventory.
Customers would also have to adhere to strict decontamination procedures.
“It’s like having a grey cloud over my head,” said Garcia.
Daughter Alexandria and son John Junior will now also have to find work elsewhere.
“My brother Johhn and I have been working here and we had the hope of stepping up and continuing the family business, and to see it destroyed like this is beyond words and devastating,” said Alexandria.
They hope the incident will help inform how the agency will go forward with enforcement.
“I hope they are going to look at it and I hope when they come up with a protocol we can work together and help the nurseries not destroy them,” added Garcia.