Corp Comm Connects

City to subsidize homeowners to immunize trees against emerald ash borer
May 29, 2015
By Joelle Kovach

Homeowners with ash trees on their properties will be able to get a subsidy on the cost of innoculating their trees against emerald ash borer this summer.

A new program was announced on Thursday that will cover half the cost of treating an ash tree with insecticide.

It's organized by Tree Canada, a charity that encourages people to plant and care for trees.

There's $50,000 available on a first-come, first-served basis for homeowners to treat their ash.

It's a pilot project that Tree Canada is offering only in Peterborough. If it works well, said Tree Canada president Michael Rosen, it may be offered next summer in other cities across Ontario and Quebec.

The money in the program comes from two of Tree Canada's sponsors: Telus and U-Haul.

Beneath a huge ash tree in Nicholls Oval on Thursday morning, Rosen said he's pleased to offer homeowners a saving of up to a few hundred dollars on the price of protecting trees.

"It's a nasty little bug," Rosen said of the emerald ash borer.

In their native Asia, borers don't do much damage. But in Ontario and Quebec, the insects have no natural predators.

Their larvae are deadly to ash trees. They eat the trunk's insides until nutrients can no longer reach the crowns. That's what causes the ash to die.

But there's an effective insecticide called TreeAzin. It's administered by drilling holes in the tree trunk and injecting the liquid with large syringes.

It's pricey, though: $6 per centimetre of diameter. For the massive ash at Nicholls Oval - 71 cm in diameter, which is about as large as ash trees get - the cost is $426.

But now homeowners can go online on the city's website and apply to have half that cost covered.

A city technician will come to your home and see if your ash tree is in good enough health to benefit from the insecticide.

If your tree is eligible for treatment, you hire a qualified contractor, pay out of your pocket, and later get 50% of the cost back.

Rosen said Peterborough was chosen as a testing ground for this program because the bug has been detected here but it hasn't become a scourge.

In cities such as Ottawa, where Rosen works, the emerald ash borer problem is an epidemic: many trees have already been attacked and are dying.

The ideal time to have your trees treated with insecticide is July and August, so Rosen said it's best to go online and apply for your subsidy soon.