“We have to apply long term thinking of replacing our urban canopy before we lost it,” said Ryan Young. “Because in the end, the insects will win because it is extremely difficult to contain the problem.”
by Kevin Woodhouse
with files from Rhonda Massad
Baie d’Urfe Mayor Maria Tutino acknowledged that even if ash trees infected by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) are treated with biopesticide TreeAzin every two years throughout their life span, “there is no miracle cure.”
But Tutino noted, like all of her West Island colleagues The Suburban contacted to discuss how area cities are handling the infestation, doing nothing like some other cities in North America “can decimate a major part of the urban canopy.
“And it is not just trees that are lost but it has been proven that cities that lose a good number of their trees has their mortality rates go up,” said Tutino. “It is not just the aesthetics of the trees being eradicated by a bug but the health of seniors is affected.”
For that reason, the city is taking a proactive approach by offering residents 2,500 new trees over the next five years, paying up to half of TreeAzin applications as well as over a discount for residents who have ash trees on their property that they want to cut down.
The city plans to work with property owners, some of whom have more than 10 ash trees on their land, to help them in this fight “since the EAB is already punishing them.”
Besides fear of losing their urban canopy, Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau told The Suburban that residents are worried about property values taking a dive if mature, 20 year old ash trees are suddenly gone from their land.
“I’ve heard from residents who fear the de-value in their homes,” Rouleau said. “You cannot replace a mature tree in one day. We’re in a war.”
Dorval is offering up a maximum of $1,500 for residents to help defray the cost of TreeAzin injections or felling trees.
Tree Azin a class four bio pesticide is been used in industrial quantities to keep the pest at bay. Efforts are failing as mother nature is pushing forward much the same as with Dutch Elm disease in the past.
The city of Beaconsfield allocated close to half a million dollars to fight the EAB in it’s 2015 budget. Tree Azin is injected into the trunk of the tree with white injectors , with no labels on them, that have been seen on major streets of the city.
The TreeAzin bottle label stated that authorized applaicators must wear protective gloves, long sleeved clothing and a face shield during application. A warning said to “keep children and pets out of the treated area until sprays have dried.”
According to Health Canada the label on the TreeAzin bottle specifies that entry to treated areas by bystanders is restricted until all insecticide is injected into the trees and the drilled holes are sealed. This ensures that there is no potential exposure to TreeAzin Systemic Insecticide from injection holes of host trees after application.
The city of Kirkland has used TreeAzin on 400 ash trees on public land, accounting for a third of all ash.
Residents will receive up to $1,000 in compensation from the city for paying half of the treatments for the next four years.
When asked if injectors are left unattended, Nathalie Laurin, Department Head for Kirkland’s Urban Forestry and Arboculture, told The Suburban that “the technician is at a short distance away, no more than 120 feet or about three houses down, when the applicators are in the trees.”
Pointe-Claire is offering a special rate for residents who want to treat their affected trees with TreeAzin.
“It is currently the only treatment recommended by experts,” noted the city of Pointe Claire through a press release. “The treatment, which is effective for two years, is offered at a special rate of $4.23 per centimetre of trunk diameter if carried out before August 31.”
The company responsible for applying the biopesticide Strathmore, also has the contract for Beaconsfield, and was beginning treatments in Pointe Claire as of press time.
When asked if it was safe to leave application injectors exposed and unattended, despite Health Canada warnings, a representative for Strathmore said “the product is 100% natural, I wouldn’t recommend touching it or anything.”
It can take up to half an hour to six hours for the material from the injector to seep its way into the tree but Strathmore noted that “no injectors are left overnight and technicians are within a few streets of the injectors while the treatments are taking place. They are around even though you can’t see them.”
Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue is only using TreeAzin for twenty percent of heritage old growth ash trees on public land. Ryan Young, councilor and head of the environment committee, said that the city is “taking more of a focus on re-planting lost trees. We are not subsidizing residents for TreeAzin because it simply is not in our budget.
“We have to apply long term thinking of replacing our urban canopy before we lost it,” said Young. “Because in the end, the insects will win because it is extremely difficult to contain the problem.”
Tutino said that fighting the EAB “will be a tremendous challenge and cost but if we put our head in the sand to let nature take its course, we will lose our trees.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Despite warnings by Health Canada not to leave TreeAzin applicator injectors unattended, some were detected in Beaconsfield in July.