Are you aware that the City of Ottawa may be planning to cut down hundreds of ash trees on your street, in your neighbourhood and in your parks, as is happening in other areas of the city?
Residents and community associations need to ask some hard questions about the City of Ottawa’s Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Management Program. Why are trees being cut down when there is an alternative and why hasn’t the public been consulted about impacts, costs and alternatives?
EAB will not be eliminated through widespread ash tree removal. It hasn’t worked anywhere else in Ontario or theUnited States and it is clearly not working in Ottawa either. So what is behind the City’s determination to cut down thousands of ash trees? Tender documents just released by the City, showing it is seeking bidders to buy the wood for commercial purposes, should raise an alarm in the community.
Urge your Councillor to hold a meeting as soon as possible to review the City’s plan to remove trees in your Ward and to discuss alternatives for saving these trees.
The Immeasurable Value of Trees: Trees, particularly those in an urban setting, are a critical asset vital to the whole community. Whether beautifying our streets, shading our parks or enhancing our property, trees improve air quality and health, save us energy costs, add to the enjoyment of our home and increase the resale value of our property as well as the desirability of our neighbourhood. Trees add to the beauty, liveability and image of a city.
Given trees importance to all of us, why hasn’t the City made it a priority to consult with the community in developing a plan to save as many of our Ash trees, affected by emerald ash borer, as possible?
First observed in Ottawa in the summer of 2008, this insect presents a serious threat to 25 per cent of the city’s forest cover located on both public and private properties. It has already spread across this city, with hundreds of trees cut down and many more slated to be taken down by the city. If removing trees was first thought to prevent the spread of the disease, it clearly isn’t working. We need a better plan.
The Alternative to Tree Removal: Oakville Ontario launched an aggressive program in 2010 to save its Ash trees by treating them with Treeazin rather than cut them down. The treatment which costs $160 to $190 per tree and is good for two years is far less than the City of Ottawa is paying to remove and dispose of a tree, estimated to be anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800. Oakville’s best practices approach is outlined at: http://www.bioforest.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=content&menuid=33&pageid=1063 These short videos are a must see.
Oakville identified early on that the most important element of the success of its EAB management project was its Communication Program and the input and participation of residents, something that is sadly lacking in Ottawa.
Cost to Ottawa Taxpayers: We have yet to learn what the overall cost of this program is to Ottawataxpayers but it will be very substantial considering that the cost of removing trees is significantly more than treating them. Furthermore, when you consider that it takes a tree almost 40 years to mature and you add the loss of the environmental and aesthetic services this tree would have provided to the community, it becomes painfully obvious that there must be a better way.
Disposal of Trees: Residents are expressing concern about the disposal of infected wood. Where is it going and how is it being treated to ensure that it does not increase the spread of EAB?
Negative Impact on Wildlife: The removal of trees, particularly during the spring birthing season, is having a very harmful impact on birds and mammals. Why have wildlife organizations not been consulted? When will the City of Ottawa finally release the long overdue Wildlife Strategy draft to the Wildlife Strategy Working Group as promised by Mayor Jim Watson?
Lack of Community Consultation: EAB surfaced in Ottawa in 2008; a presentation by staff to the City’s Environment Committee on October 18, 2011 identified a detailed Communications Plan that included Workshops, Educational Materials, Community Outreach and Stakeholder Awareness. None of this has taken place. Instead, the City has scheduled only two public information sessions and this is only occurring after hundreds of trees have already been cut down. These are not consultations in that they don’t provide a forum for open dialogue or for questions and answers to be heard by all. It is not, therefore, surprising that few people attended the first session.
Now is the time to speak out before more of our valuable trees are destroyed.
Ottawa Councillor Contact Information:
Ward Maps: http://www.ottawa.ca/cs/groups/content/@webottawa/documents/pdf/mdaw/mta1/~edisp/cap106603.pdf
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre