I am concerned with Aurora’s Emerald Ash Borer Management. I did a lot of reading in the past few days and it bothers me because I am not sure what is the Town’s clear objective, to wipe out the Emerald Ash Borer population in the Town of Aurora or prolong the lives of Aurora’s Ash trees? However, I am concerned how the whole project is being managed to date.

The Emerald Ash Borer started attacking Ash trees in Canada back in 2002, but it seems like the beetle was introduced in North America sometime in the 1990s. The borer was classified as a highly destructive invasive beetle and continues to be. Birkshire Boulevard is one of the streets in Aurora that is full of beautiful Ash trees that were planted about 10 years ago; those trees also span across adjacent streets and streets on the other side of Gateway Drive. Birkshire Boulevard is near a school. This whole subdivision was under development in 2002 as can be seen in Google’s Earth map archives. At that time no trees were planted on the property. I wonder what Aurora knew about the Emerald Ash Borer at that time? Maybe the builders could have been encouraged to plant different trees?

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According to the report Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan Update (PDF), over a 12 year period the Town of Aurora’s projected cost managing the Emerald Ash Borer infestation will be: $212,000 already spent using the pesticide TreeAzin in 2013, 2014; plus another $1,140,000 (over the next 10 years) to change to an alternative treatment plan using a new pesticide IMA-Jet (with active ingredient Imidacloprid known to be highly toxic to Honey Bees, and Aquatic Life). Overall a total of $1,352,000 tax payer dollars projected over 12 years to treat about 2073 trees in Aurora (about $650 per tree) to pump them full of pesticides. The effectiveness is not guaranteed and any replacement costs are not included. Aurora has an Emerald Ash Borer contractor who is hopefully part of the pesticide costing strategy.

As promised in previous reports listed on the Town of Aurora site, a map-out of Ash trees in Aurora was supposed to be available, but is nowhere to be found. The last report promised an assessment of the effectiveness of the 2013-2014 treatment so Council could make a decision on whether the change to IMA-Jet (more toxic, higher potency, lower cost pesticide) was warranted. The assessment is nowhere to be found. Council approved IMA-Jet anyway. There was no public consultation on the change over. The Town chose low level communication on the subject, a notice in the local paper with a list of streets where the treatment is taking place.

The effectiveness of IMA-Jet may be more certain but the Emerald Ash Borer arriving from other municipalities like Markham, King, Richmond Hill and Vaughan who chose not to invest heavily in pesticides is also certain. And most certainly the Borers will not be contained by town boundaries.

I drove on Birkshire Boulevard today. Beautiful street that stretches along the Aurora Community Arboretum. The Ash tree canopy is mature and looks beautiful. It hit me then. This is why the Town wants to save those trees. They define Birkshire Boulevard. It will be a shame if they all die. All trees are now marked with green paint. The Town chose to apply for an exception and mark the trees as opposed to place warning signage that is required by the Ministry of the Environment every time an area is treated with such pesticides.

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If residents don’t read the paper and don’t visit the Town of Aurora site then chances are those residents don’t know what it happening with the Ash Trees. I asked my neighbour if she knew why the tree in front of her house was marked. She said she didn’t know why. She added that they are diseased and one of them was recently cut down. No, they are infested, and there is a difference. The Town claims that people have been notified. Maybe she threw the notification out without reading it? Maybe there was no notification. In fact, Pinnacle Trail is not even listed on the Notice Board in the paper. Why?

Here in conclusion is the sad part. A few years ago one of the Red Maple trees across the street on Town property died. The dead Red Maple tree was removed and replaced. Can you guess what tree was planted? Yes, an Ash tree. At that time the Town knew about the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. The tree is about three inches in diameter and has no leaves on the top. A sign of infestation.

So here is something interesting from Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA):

How is the emerald ash borer spread? The most common way for the emerald ash borer to spread is through people moving infested materials such as firewood, logs, branches, nursery stock, chips or other ash wood. The emerald ash borer also spreads naturally through beetle flight. Research indicates the adult can fly up to 10 kilometres, but generally does not stray from the immediate area when it emerges.

Perhaps an Emerald Ash Borer infested tree was planted on Pinnacle Trail, a street that is not even listed on the Notice Board in the paper. CFIA through its site constantly encourages public education. But then can we expect the Town to educate us if they continue to do things like planting Ash trees?

I am very concerned. I am concerned about the decision to use pesticides and I am concerned about Ash tree management in general in Aurora. Are you?

Anna Lozyk Romeo, Editor’s Notes
Aurora, ON

Copyright 2015 Anna Lozyk Romeo / community FOCUS LivingInAurora.com

Emerald Ash Borer

Ash Trees Town of Aurora