Emerald ash borer risks infesting trees on Mount Royal, Projet Montréal charges

If nothing is done, an invasive species risks decimating thousands of trees on Mount Royal, the city’s official opposition said on Tuesday.

Invasive beetle is already responsible for destroying 200 trees on the mountain since 2012

Projet Montréal says the city must do more to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer in Mount Royal. (CBC)

A green oasis in the city of Montreal is at risk of being ravaged by an invasive species and decimating thousands of trees, the city's official opposition said Wednesday.

Projet Montréal is calling for an emergency plan to be made to deal with the threat of emerald ash borer spreading, as well as additional funding for the private owners of land on Mount Royal.

The emerald ash borer is responsible for 200 ash trees being cut down since 2012 on the mountain.

The beetles infest ash trees and eat them from the inside.

"Those partners need some help, they need some funds so we can help prevent a massive cut of trees on Mount Royal," said Projet Montréal counsellor Sylvain Ouellet.

Not time to panic, says city

Réal Ménard, the city's executive committee member in charge of sustainable development, estimates 26,000 ash trees grow on the city-owned portion of the mountain, though there hasn't been an official tally of the trees since the 1990s.

Ménard said he'll be hosting a meeting next week with the other owners of the land on Mount Royal. Some of those partners include McGill University, the MUHC, and Université de Montréal.

He also said the city has hired a group to do a proper inventory of the trees this year. 

Ménard said it's not time to panic, and that the city has determined some of the areas where trees are more at risk.

"We have a fairly good idea of what needs to be done," he said.

'A battle we've already lost'

On the property owned by Université de Montréal, an additional 200 trees have been cut down, but the university is already working to plant new ones.

In May, 81 new trees were planted. The rest will be planted in the fall.

Alexandre Beaudoin, who is responsible for biodiversity at Université de Montréal, said the institution has opted to plant trees that aren't ash trees — to avoid future infestation of the emerald ash borer.

"It's a battle that we've already lost," he said.

Beaudoin added the university is trying to find ways to use the wood from the fallen trees.