The emerald ash borers devastating ash trees in eastern Ottawa haven't yet made big inroads into Kanata, but that isn't stopping the community from preparing.
For weeks, Kanata resident Mario Poirier has been distributing ash borer pamphlets to hundreds of homes, only to discover that most people can't identify the ash trees in their own yards.
"People don't really know what they own on their property. One of the big issues that we have is while people might have heard about infestation, they don't necessarily know what they have so they're not really driven by urgency that needs to happen," Poirier said.
"It's coming our way. … So the next few weeks, people have to make some decisions on their own property."
Nearly 100 people showed up for a meeting at Kanata's John G Mlacak Community Centre on Wednesday night to learn about what the beetle is doing to other Ottawa neighbourhoods, how to identify ash trees, and what to do to protect them.
Matt Muirhead, president of the Kanata Lakes Community Association, said people should be motivated by the fact that mature, healthy trees contribute a lot to a home's value.
"So you could be taking thousands of dollars off the equity in your home by not treating a tree that would have to be otherwise felled," Muirhead said.
About 160 private properties have ash trees in the Kanata Lakes neighbourhood alone, Muirhead said, citing Poirier's inventory.
"If you take the 160 private properties in just his small neck of the woods … there'd be thousands in Kanata Lakes alone, thousands more in Kanata North, and also … we have the South March Highlands," Muirhead said, adding he's not aware of any city inventory of the trees in the conservation forest.
"Until we get an inventory of those trees we won't know how many need treatment, or if there a grave danger for the larger forest," Muirhead said.
Joanne Wittingham attended Wednesday night's meeting.
"I think the committee in our neighbourhood is going to look around and see just how many ash trees and what condition they're in, and then come up with a plan hopefully to save as many of them as we can, through treatment," she said, adding that it's far more expensive to remove dead trees than to treat them.
Heather Britt, another resident, said she paid about $1,000 last year to treat five trees on her property. She said she'd rather pay to repeat the treatments every other year than to pay more to remove infected trees.