Photo: Special collaboration
While the City of Montreal is redoubling its efforts to overcome the scourge of the emerald ash borer that affects its ash trees, the contractors responsible for treating or cutting down the trees have seen their orders for this season increase considerably.
This year, to encourage citizens to treat the trees on their land, the City of Montreal decided to crack down. The threat of being fined between $350 and $700 for ash trees not treated against the borer scared Montrealers who hastened to make an appointment with arboriculture companies. To the happiness of the latter.
“People were panicked when they saw that the deadline of August 31 to have the ash trees treated was approaching. From the beginning of August, we were fully booked. We couldn’t take any more processing orders until the end of the month! “, testifies a representative of the company Arboriculture Dumoulin.
The same bell rings on the Arbodirect side, explains Eric Trépanier, arborist: “We are very overwhelmed. So much so that I didn’t manage to do all the treatments that I had to do. I treated the ash trees every day, all summer long. From the end of July, I had to refuse customers. »
Subsidies that help The City of Montreal has certainly cracked down, but it has also offered many subsidies to citizens who were in the risk areas that it had defined.
In 2016, the City invested a million dollars to overcome the emerald ash borer in the private sector and encourage citizens to take part in the fight against the epidemic. At the Viau Tree Maintenance Service, all the treatments applied during the summer were subsidized.
Increased costs Feeling that this assistance would finally convince citizens to have their trees treated, the arborist entrepreneurs took advantage of the standards defined by the City of Montreal to increase the price of treatments against the borer. Last year, the cost of the treatment was more or less $ 5 per centimeter of diameter. In 2016, the City authorized to charge a maximum of $ 6 per centimeter so that the citizen can see 50% of his bill, before taxes, refunded. So the entrepreneurs seized the opportunity.
TC Media calculated that the average cost of treatment for a 30 cm ash tree would be $180. But it must be taken into account that the treatment is to be repeated every two years, for about 6 to 8 years. Which amounts to a total between $ 540 and $ 732, without taking into account that during this time, the diameter of the tree continues to grow. And if you have, for example, three ash trees at home, then the bill goes up between $ 1620 and $ 2196. Which then represents a nice investment.
Some citizens feel trapped For some, despite the subsidies, the regulation concerning the treatment of ash trees remains abusive. In Rivière-des-Prairies, several residents have gathered to file a petition with the borough on this subject. For example, they are calling for the introduction of an ash tax: “Just as people without children pay the school tax, all citizens should pay for the ash trees that are on the territory of the borough, even those who do not have any. After all, trees belong to everyone. The proof, you need a permit to shoot them down,” argues Guy Gauthier, one of the citizens at the origin of the petition.
They also suspect that the contractors who treat and cut down the trees are taking advantage of the situation by increasing their prices and are asking for alternative solutions to Treeazin treatment, the only insecticide authorized on the territory of the island of Montreal. They propose to use the method set up by the entomologist of Natural Resources Canada Robert Lavallée and which consists of depositing a device containing a fungus, which looks like a small white powder, and which is deadly for the borer when the animal comes into contact with.
Several methods, only one approved, which is not fundamentally a bad idea according to Alain Cogliastro, botanist-researcher at the Montreal Botanical Garden: “This method works very well in the laboratory, but it is difficult to implement in the field. In the United States, researchers are studying the use of bees to treat the borer in the long term, but here too it is not yet a successful method. The Treeazin, on the other hand, has an 80% success rate on the ground. And probably in the remaining 20% there are ash trees that have been treated when they were already too affected. »
By the way, in the Botanical Garden, this method is also used. Treeazin, whose toxicity to the environment is very low compared to other products, is injected into ash trees whose borer affects less than 30% of the foliage. But for Alain Cogliastro, it is certainly necessary to treat the sick ash trees, but above all we must think about the future and plant another tree today that will take over.
The last option Thinking about the future is essential when we know that on the island of Montreal, last April there were more than 13,000 trees felled since the appearance of the borer in 2011. In many cases and given the speed of spread of the disease, slaughter remains the only option, expensive and at the total expense of the citizen. But contrary to what one might think, despite the situation that benefits them, the majority of entrepreneurs have not increased their rates to this level. Ranging from $ 300 up to $ 1000 per felled tree, the prices of arboriculture companies vary enormously depending on the size of the tree, its position, etc. Hence the importance of shopping for your contractor and making several estimates before embarking on this necessary major cleaning.