City staff will recommend chopping about 2,230 ash trees per year in Hamilton in an effort to cope with the impact of the emerald ash borer.
Staff will present a report to the general issues committee Thursday recommending a plan that costs $26.2 million over 10 years. That includes cutting down thousands of ash trees — including some not yet infected by the borer — and replacing each one with a newly planted borer-resistant tree.
Public works staff will also recommend injecting about 200 trees annually with an insecticide.
The report comes in the wake of a 10-year struggle in Ontario with the invasive emerald ash borer. Native to Asia, the borer has no natural predators and has devastated ash trees across southern Ontario. It has been found as far as Ottawa, and was found in Hamilton in 2009.
The report suggests five options, which range from removing and replacing trees once they are already dead or dying ($26.8 million) to only cutting down dead trees and not replacing them ($16 million).
There are about 23,000 ash trees along Hamilton streets, and in urban municipal parks and cemeteries. About 8 per cent of Hamilton's street trees are ash, although in some wards, it is as much as 19 per cent. This does not include trees on private property or in rural woodlots.
As of the end of July, the city has removed 78 infected trees and treated 11 healthy trees in an effort to deter the borer.
Staff is recommending the following:
"The City should implement a strategy of proactive removal of approximately 2,230 urban ash trees per year from urban streets and parks, combined with 1:1 tree replacement (Option 3)."
It also recommends continuing to map the presence of ash trees, and implementing a communications plan to advise residents and industry about the borer.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the committee will discuss financial issues surrounding the Waterfront Trust and the potential establishment of a two-way street implementation team for downtown Hamilton.Watch the meeting live.