Beaconsfield fights emerald ash borer

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Twenty litres of TreeAzin from Tree Canada to preserve 125 trees on public land

By Kevin Woodhouse
with files from Robert Frank

www.thesuburban.com

While no Emerald Ash Borers (EAB) have been detected within the city limits of Beaconsfield, the municipality is not taking any chances having identified the roughly 3,000 ash trees found on public land.

This past Monday morning, Mayor Georges Bourelle, director of Public Works Andrew Duffield and Michael Rosen, president of Tree Canada, held a press conference after Tree Canada donated 20 litres of TreeAzin, a biopesticide that makes the EAB sterile and unable to propagate as quickly.

“The 20 litres will be able to help 125 trees within our territory,” Duffield said.

And while the insidious insect has made its way to the West Island, a significant change to last year’s timeframe from Montreal experts denoting the bug would not hit our trees for 20 years at least, Rosen told the assembled that Montreal is not in terrible shape yet, as opposed to some cities like Gatineau and Ottawa.

“The EAB first appeared in Montreal in 2001,” said Rosen. “This destructive bug has ravaged Gatineau and Ottawa, leaving hundreds of ash corpses in its wake.”

Duffield thinks that “Montreal has a real chance to protect its ash trees as the EAB does not respect borders.”

Each TreeAzin application costs about $250, depending on the maturity of the tree and its diameter, and lasts for two years. The chemical is injected into the base of the tree with a small insertion via a drill bit.

The 125 trees were treated last week but Bruno Chicoine of Antidote Arboriculture did a demonstration for the assembled on two ash trees in the lush Centennial Park.

Bourelle is hoping that Beaconsfield’s preventative treatment will yield the kind of results found in Oakville, Ontario. “They have been treating their trees for the last eight years and boast a 94 per cent success rate. If we had to cut down our ash trees that are on public land, the bill would be about $4.5 million, or about a quarter of our yearly budget,” Bourelle told The Suburban.

Bourelle noted that the city’s expansive tree canopy is a real draw for potential residents and “if we had fewer trees in our city, it would have an impact on home values.”

The Beaconsfield Citizens Association (BCA) is in favour of protecting the city’s famous green canopy and working proactively with the city, but BCA president Al Gardner is looking forward to meeting with town officials in order to “get more information as we do not know where the city’s statistics and stories are coming from.”

The BCA also wants to discuss the city’s punitive nature in protecting the ash trees with the new proposed bylaw. “We would like to discuss different alternatives to combating the problem as opposed to giving someone a $750 fine for having an infested tree. If it takes two to three years for a tree to be infested, some homeowners might not know they have infected trees,” Gardner told The Suburban.

To keep its residents abreast of all the efforts to combat the EAB, Beaconsfield has slated a Sept. 15 town hall meeting to air citizens’ concerns and discuss the city’s strategy.

“We also intend to host and open house during the afternoon that day,” city manager Patrice Boileau told The Suburban. “We hope to have some specialists on hand with us, and possibly during the subsequent town hall meeting as well.”

“Treat it and save it, that’s going to be our slogan,” Boileau disclosed in an interview.

Neighbouring Baie d’Urfé Mayor Maria Tutino is also moving aggressively to stem the risk to the town’s tree canopy.

“We have accelerated our plans,” she told residents during the town’s Aug. 12 council meeting. “We have about 10 times more ash trees in the public domain than we originally thought. We will be hiring a lot of staff in September. Emma Jobidon, our environment coordinator, will be spending 100 per cent of her time on the project.

“The number of ash trees is about 6,000, public and private,” Mayor Tutino told The Suburban.

She said that the town is using its clout to negotiate the best possible price for tree treatment and felling, both for its own ash trees—some of which are about a century old—and possibly for citizens as well.

Baie d’Urfé is also prepared to help its residents who want to preemptively fell their healthy ash trees. Council voted to reduce the cost of a felling permit to zero.

“We have to manage the risk of losing all the trees at the same time,” Mayor Tutino said in an interview. “Right now the law covers trees that are 25 cm diameter, one metre above the ground. However the new Montreal agglomeration plan might call for permits for cutting smaller trees.”

However, council also passed a notice of motion to up fines for illegal felling to a maximum $1,200.

“The town will also need a forest manager,” Mayor Tutino added, pointing to a potential scourge more indiscriminate than the EAB in attacking a wide range of broadleaf trees.

“The longhorn beetle attacks maple trees, and it is already in Canada,” she stated.

“We’re pushing to look at trees as municipal infrastructure,” Mayor Tutino concluded. “In the United States, where the EAB denuded the tree cover, studies showed that mortality rates went up because of the associated environmental effects.

The city of Beaconsfield will hold an open house and town hall meeting on Monday, Sept. 15, at the Herb Linder Annex at 303 Beaconsfield Boulevard on the EAB. The Town Hall begins at 7 p.m. with the Open House from 1-5 p.m.

The Beaconsfield Citizens’ Association’s website contains information and recommendations on dealing with the EAB and can be found via www.bca-acb.org.

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