Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue proactive in battling emerald ash borer

Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue officials joined members of the TD Green Streets Program and Tree Canada on June 4 to announce a grant that will help cover the cost of planting close to 70 new trees this spring on municipal lands. (Phototheque)

Town looking to greener future

Officials in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue are taking a 70-year proactive approach to battling the invasive emerald ash borer beetle that is systematically wiping out species of ash trees across Canada and the United States.

Last Thursday the waterfront town announced that it has received a $12,500 grant from the TD Green Streets Program. The funds have been injected into a reforestation project that saw close to 70 new trees planted this spring on municipal lands, according to STAB municipal councillor Ryan Young, who is also the federal NDP candidate in the Lac-Saint-Louis riding. Biodiversity, says Young, is the cornerstone of the town’s emerald ash borer action plan, which all Montreal Island towns are required by the Montreal Agglomeration Council to have. “We had a specific criteria for the trees we chose (to plant) including ones that could withstand storms, that are large shade trees and a good replacement for ash trees,” Young noted. He said the town’s plan encompasses a 70 year time frame. A total of 12 tree species that include red oak, tulip trees, scarlet oak, red maple, sycamore, white pine, black walnut, and more, were selected.

Public lands

Since 180 ash trees on public lands have been identified in the town, the plan calls for the same number of trees to be planted in the coming years. Those figures do not take into account the number of ash trees on private land. And though no municipal ash trees have yet been identified as being infected with the pest that bores its way into a tree, Young says the “looming crisis” will almost surly hit. “The emerald ash borer has been detect in other West Island towns and once it finds a home it’s only five to ten years until almost every ash tree is dead.” In addition to planting new trees each year, another part of the action plan has included injecting “some of nicer (ash) trees” with a bio pesticide called tree azin in a proactive effort to save them. Each injection costs $400 per tree and usually offers protection for up to two years. Towns such as Oakville, Ont. have report favourable results from the pesticide, said Young, adding that other towns have not had luck with the pricey option. “Planting a new tree can cost between $200 to $400, and cutting down a mature tree can run up to $1,000 so it’s an expensive problem we’re dealing with,” he noted. Scientist with the Canadian Forest Service estimate towns and cities across Canada could pay up to $2-billion over the next 30 year dealing with the pest that was first detected in Canada in Windsor, Ont. in 2002. Natural Resources Canada says the beetle that is native to Asia, has killed tens of millions of ash trees. Six of the new trees were planted during the June 4 grant announcement that was also attended by Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa, Martin Bonhomme, Director General and Amélie Picher, Regional Director for TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, among others.   More than 125 applications were submitted to the 2015 TD Green Streets program. Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue was one of twenty-two municipalities selected.

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