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Saanich homeowner wins $2,000 from neighbour who planted bamboo that invaded his lawn

Charles Parker installed a barrier to prevent the spread of the bamboo from the neighbours’ yard.
Bamboo isn’t on the District of Saanich’s list of invasive plants. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A Saanich homeowner frustrated by his neighbours’ bamboo plants popping up in his manicured lawn has successfully sued them, winning $2,000 in damages.

Charles Parker sued neighbours Paul and Cindy Hsieh after he spent an estimated $5,000 in parts, tools and labour to install a barrier that would prevent the spread of the roots and rhizomes of the running bamboo plants the Hsiehs had planted about a decade ago.

Parker said he filed the action with the provincial civil resolution tribunal after he told the Hsiehs in 2019 that the plants were encroaching on his property. He said he asked them to remove the bamboo and install a barrier on their side of the fence line to stop the spread and they didn’t.

He told the tribunal he has had to cut back the bamboo over the years and was worried it would damage his structures.

The Hsiehs said at the time that the bamboo would not damage his structure, but Parker’s own laurel hedge roots would. They said they weren’t responsible for installing a barrier and suggested the best solution was for Parker to remove the roots and rhizomes on his property.

“The Hsiehs said the bamboo is no different from any other invading root or leaf all neighbours deal with,” according to the decision.

Tribunal member Shelley Lopez said she had to determine whether the bamboo posed a “legal nuisance” — “the substantial (non-trivial) and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of property.”

“I find the bamboo was a nuisance, because of the particular difficulty in removing it from the laurel and because of the extent the bamboo sprouted over Mr. Parker’s yard,” she wrote.

“Based on the photos and the large amount of bamboo stalks sprouting up throughout Mr. Parker’s well-manicured yard, I accept the interference was substantial and unreasonable.”

She noted that the bamboo caused “no actual physical damage” and the Hsiehs wouldn’t have known a barrier was necessary when they planted the bamboo because it isn’t on the Saanich district’s invasive plants list. She also said they wouldn’t have known it was going to spread from their property.

But she said they were told it had in 2019 and did nothing.

She ruled in Parker’s favour, accepting that he would have had costs to install the barrier. But because he provided no receipts, invoices or quotes for the $5,000 he spent and the 100 hours of labour he included in that amount seemed excessive, she came up with $2,000 as an amount for damages instead.

“Parker did install a barrier and photos show the work was significant,” said Lopez.