The Peterborough Examiner
April 9, 2013
By: Brendan Wedley

As the municipality moves ahead with its 10-year, $4.9-million plan to deal with the emerald ash borer bug invasion, Peterborough Green Up is urging it to engage residents in the campaign.

“If the public’s not involved, then we will not get anything done. The public has to be involved in this,” said Vern Bastable, urban forest co-ordinator at Green Up. “It is very important to get people working together on this.

“Green Up has the experience dealing with the people in the community.”

City council approved the response plan to deal with the bug, during its meeting Monday.

For this year, the program would cost $173,000, which would go toward additional staff time, public education and hiring a company to do an inventory and assessment of ash trees on city-owned property.

Council decided on a plan that includes chemically treating some ash trees next to city streets to save them from the infestation and removing some of the untreated trees that will be killed by the bugs.

The invasive species from Asia was discovered in Ontario in the Windsor area in 2002. It has spread across southwestern Ontario and has reached the Oshawa area.

City staff expect the bug to spread to Peterborough by this summer or early next year.

They estimate that 10% to 15% of trees on city-owned property, or about 7,100 trees, are ash trees.

Coun. Dan McWilliams suggested the city should hire Green Up to complete the tree inventory.

The contract will be awarded through an open, competitive request-for-proposals process, utility services director Wayne Jackson said.

“It’s a very large project and we will certainly be looking to many stakeholders, such as Green Up … to help us with various aspects of this project,” he said.

Council decided that part of the municipality’s response will be helping residents with ash trees on their private property deal with the bugs — but there won’t be financial help; the municipality’s assistance will be largely through public education.

“I believe that public education is going to be a big part of the program,” Coun. Lesley Parnell said.

The city can’t afford to pay for the chemical treatment or the removal of trees on private property, but it’s important for people to know what’s going on, Coun. Henry Clarke said.

“The city won’t be able to pay for it, that’s for sure,” he said.