The Weed Control Act is one of Alberta's oldest pieces of legislation. The Act protects citizens from economic and invasive losses caused by weeds. Weedy plants exhibit extreme development of some habit of growth or physiological requirements such as easy seed dissemination using barbs or hair tufts.
Weedy plants may grow thorns or have growth habits which permit plants to take over land areas. Weedy plants may also show long lived seed or abundant seed production in conditions adverse to native species or to desirable crop plants. Weeds may also have roots which develop shoot buds and new shoots in spite of intensive cultivation.
Uncontrolled plant growth may also interfere with human activities, such as lines of sight at intersections, or interference with control devices on rail or utility lines. Excessive plant growth may create a fire hazard as the plants mature.
The Weed Control Act is divided into two main components, the legislation passed by the legislative assembly and the regulations, which serve to allow for the enforcement of the Act on a consistent basis. The Act is the enabling legislation that defines the actions municipalities in Alberta must take in respect to weed control, the methods of service of notices, to whom the notices should be served and the conditions necessary for appeal.
The Weed Control Act also defines the actions inspectors appointed by the Municipalities must take when confronted with weedy plants that are considered either "Restricted", "Noxious" or "Nuisance" weeds.
Within the legislation are enforcement standards for various weed categories. Restricted weeds must be controlled wherever found. There is zero tolerance for these species. Noxious weeds are to be issued notices on a discretionary basis on the decision of the weed inspector following established unit guidelines.
At present, unit guidelines dictate notices will be issued for stands of Canada Thistle, Toadflax, Scentless Chamomile, and Leafy Spurge. All other plants are treated on a discretionary basis taking into consideration the severity of the weed infestation and the location the weeds are growing.
The location includes such considerations as the area of the city, the proximity to water and areas for increased spread, and in the case of natural areas, the value of the area to the inventory.