By Kevin Woodhouse
The notion of being proactive against the emerald ash borer (EAB) in order to protect Beaconsfield’s “canopy of trees” was brought up by Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle, Director General Patrice Boileau and Denis Chabot of urban planning a number of times during the town Hall meeting held Monday night that brought out a standing room only crowd.
During the day, the city held an open house where about 125 residents took part to hear from a variety of experts in the field of treating the insidious Asian EAB bug that has made its way to the city of Montreal as well as parts of DDO, Pointe Claire and Pierrefonds-Roxboro. Boileau did tell the assembled that while the city of Beaconsfield has yet to find any EAB bugs in its traps, it is only a matter of time since the insects do not respect borders.
During Boileau’s presentation, slides showing before and after of tree canopies in cities in Ontario and the U.S. that had been devastated by EAB in only a matter of two to three years. With that in mind, the city is being proactive by adding a bylaw to combat the bug.
The city has about 11,000 ash trees within its territory, roughly 8,000 of those are found on private residences. Homeowners with ash trees are encouraged to treat them with TreeAzin, a biopesticide that according to a spokesperson present, does not pollute the soil or water table.
Boileau noted that it costs five dollars per cm of tree radius every two years but the price could go down depending on the supplier found. The D.G. also mentioned that Beaconsfield will be seeking tenders to have a TreeAzin supplier who could offer a better bulk price.
Sixty-five per cent of all residents in Beaconsfield do not have ash trees on their property while eight properties have more than 30 ash trees.
Chabot told the assembly that a single tree on a property can add 18% of a land’s value as well as the ecological benefits from having a lush canopy within the territory, representing 35% of the city, down from a 41% canopy coverage over the last seven years.
Beaconsfield has divided the roughly 3,000 ash trees on town land into three categories with about 350 falling into the third, requiring it to be cut down. The city will maintain the ban on transporting ash trees from the end of March until October with TreeAzin treatments slated for mid-summer, the best time to combat EAB.
The city will also offer more in house services to combat the EAB by training employees in house rather than go outside for experts, a projected savings of about $300,000.
“We know that the perception of having to treat ash trees is costly but we if do nothing, it will cost a lot more to cut the infected trees down,” said Boileau.
Bourelle noted that fighting the EAB will be “costly but essential as it will be less costly to cut and then replace trees in the long run.”
During Question Period, several homeowners with at least three to eight ash trees on their property asked for financial help or a payment plan without penalties. Boileau said that the city would look at that option for citizens with more that one ash tree on their residence. Treatments will cost roughly $100 per ash tree for the next 14-20 years.
Some citizens found the 100 m radius of treatment a little harsh due to their proximity to parks or ash trees found on private land. The city plans to create a data base of all treated ash trees to help gauge the city and residents’ progress.
Boileau told the assembled that the city council and administration will be working on an action plan to combat the EAB, noting spending parameters so that treatment can begin in earnest next spring.