A new report from the City of Winnipeg shows the emerald ash borer’s arrival in Winnipeg will cost the city approximately $105 million over the next decade.
The invasive wood-boring insect attacks and kills all species of ash trees, according to the report. It was found on a St. Boniface street in late 2017.
READ MORE: Winnipeg’s urban forest facing a new threat
The report said the city will spend $90 million over the next 10 years managing the dead trees on city property while an additional $15 million will be spent managing the wood waste from the tree removals.
These costs do not include managing ash trees on private property.
There are about 101,000 ash trees on boulevards and parks and about 256,385 ash trees on private properties.
“With emerald ash borer you’re at risk of losing every ash tree,” the city’s forester Martha Barwinsky said.
“When you look at even just the public trees with Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer you’re looking at over 60 per cent of our canopy from boulevards and in parks. That represents a significant part of our urban forest.”
The city said the beetle cannot be eradicated once it’s detected and the city is at risk of losing all its ash trees, which make up 30 per cent of the city’s street and park tree population.
On Monday the city’s Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks voted to reallocate $1.3 million from the 2018 Urban Forest Enhancement Program to the Emerald Ash Borer Emergency Response Plan and hire a new supervisor position for $92,771.
This isn’t money that was set for fighting Dutch elm disease, but for pruning trees in the city, allowing the city to battle both Dutch elm disease and the beetle.
“We’re the only city in north america that is battling both invasive pests at the same time. It was actually identified by Natural Resources Canada that Winnipeg would be one of the greatest cities at risk just due to emerald ash borer,” Barwinsky said.
Barwinsky warns there’s also a safety risk when the trees die from the emerald ash borer.
“It is a safety risk in that trees do fail a couple of years after emerald ash borer and it’s certainly a risk when we have so many ash trees on boulevards and parks.”
Here is a list of the top 5 neighbourhoods in Winnipeg with the most ash trees in boulevards and parks:
- River Park South ~ 2880
- Dakota Crossing ~ 2650
- Tyndall Park ~ 2560
- Linden Woods ~ 2550
- Richmond West ~ 2400
More information about the ash borer beetle is available on the city’s website.