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Montrealers can now protect ash trees against emerald ash borers for free

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species that kills ash trees. File / Global News

Montreal residents will no longer have to pay to treat their ash trees against the highly destructive emerald ash borer insect, the city announced on Thursday.

A native insect of Asia, the harmful emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of trees since it was first detected in North America in 2002.

To obtain the free treatment, residents must fill out an online questionnaire by July 31.

READ MORE: Montreal to chop 4,000 ash trees on Mount Royal sickened by emerald ash borer

“The treatments will continue as long as it is a threat to the trees,” said Plateau-Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez, adding that it could take up to 15 years.

Residents previously had to undergo a laborious administrative process to be reimbursed for the treatments, but Ferrandez said it would not cost the city more money to give the treatment for free.

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Residents who fail to treat their ash trees every two years could be fined upwards of $350.

So far, 70 per cent of private ash trees have been evaluated by the city, and 5,000 trees are treatable.

Close to 30,000 ash trees have been cut down to date. In 2018, while 8,000 ash trees were cut down in Montreal, 30,000 new treats were planted on both private and public lands, according to the city.

READ MORE: Emerald Ash Borer finds its way to Île-Perrot

This program is the first of its kind in Canada.

“We’re on the right track. We’re far from the finish line, but it’s a key issue,” said Ferrandez.

“Had we known that some people were not going to get in the program because of the administrative burden, maybe we should’ve made it free to start with.”

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