Emerald Ash Borer costs continue to rise
Dying ash trees, victims of Emerald Ash Borer, along Miller Park Ave. in Bradford, in early September, 2016. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network
The annual budget for urban forestry in Bradford West Gwillimbury now stands at $200,000 - $100,000 for Town parks and properties, and another $100,000 allocated in 2016 for maintenance of trees planted along the boulevards.
A report on urban forestry, presented to Council in Committee of the Whole in September, proposed increasing the budget further in 2017, to continue the work of removing and replacing dead and damaged trees on urban streets, and treating some of the Town's mature Ash trees of “significant value,” to protect them against the Emerald Ash Borer.
The Town replaced 200 trees in 2015, but saw a 15% mortality rate, believed to be due to drought and heat this summer. The trees, which are still under warranty, will be replaced by the contractor – but the Report noted that there is still a backlog, for tree maintenance and replacement.
So far, an arborist had dealt with 118 boulevard trees – 87 of them “high” priority, and 33 “medium” priority. Another 142 trees will be dealt with this fall, and another 100 trees planted, reducing the backlog to 247 trees.
The wild card is the impact of Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive pest introduced from Asia, which has killed millions of Ash trees across Ontario. The Town has twice treated “significant” trees in parks and along boulevards since 2014, when Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was first detected in the municipality, but “EAB continues to be an area of great concern,” the report noted. While the treatment seems to be working in parks, ash trees along the boulevards continue to die.
There are 70 to 89 mature ash trees on Lee, Masin and Cambridge streets that have not responded to treatment, Council was told. All show up to 60% loss of foliage, and are not expected to survive another year, a loss that will have “a significant impact on this neighbourhood.”
The report recommends removal of the Ash trees before they become a hazard, in addition to further removal and replacement of dead trees elsewhere in Town, and another round of EAB treatment for healthy Ash. The additional work would add $435,000 to the tree budget in 2017 - $35,000 for town-wide treatment for Emerald Ash Borer, $150,000 to complete the work of tree replacement, and a whopping $250,000 to remove the Ash trees on Lee, Masin and Cambridge.
Mayor Rob Keffer asked if there could be cost savings by having some of the work done “in house” rather than contracting out.
Director of Community Services Terry Foran agreed that the Town would like to do more of the work itself, but currently contracting out is a more efficient use of time and money. To do the work in-house would require both additional fleet and additional equipment.
The proposed expenditures were referred to upcoming 2017 budget.