Dead Chokecherry trees like “something out of a horror movie”

WINNIPEG — The once ‘glorious’ tree in Dennis Doyle’s front yard hasn’t produced any leaves for a least two years.

It’s a Schubert Chokecherry and it’s been choked to death by black knot fungus.

Randall Paull / Global News

The South St. Vital resident has called 311 at least ten times, asking them to remove it. But his is just one of thousands on the list. The city only has the budget to remove several hundred per year.

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“It’s very, very frustrating,” said Doyle, who’s tree is on city property. “It looks like something out of a horror movie.”

Black knot fungus thrives in moisture and spreads with the wind. On several streets, the dead or dying trees line both sides of the boulevard.

“It looks like you have a whole bunch of dog turds hanging up in your tree,” says St. Mary’s Nursery manager, Ken Land. “All those boulevard trees act as an infection site for every other Schubert that’s in someone’s yard.”

In efforts to tackle the problem the city more than doubled its tree removal budget last, spending close to one million dollars to remove eight hundred chokecherry trees.  But funding has since been reduced to ‘normal’ levels.  Just over $400,000 per year.

St. Vital Councillor Brian Mayes says they need to do more if they want to make a dent in the problem.

“At the pace of eight hundred per year, we’re not going to get this done for several years.

Doyle isn’t waiting.  After asking the city again this year for his tree to be removed, they advised him he could cut it down himself as long as he hired professionals and paid the $500 fee.

He is thinking of selling his home and doesn’t want the dead tree out front to deter prospective buyers.

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“I think I should just take it down because its an eyesore,” said Doyle.

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