Montreal residents not responding to city's ash borer efforts
City residents not taking advantage of subsidies for treating affected ash trees
The City of Montreal's efforts to fight the emerald ash borer are being hampered by a lack of action on the part of residents with ash trees on their properties.
The city has set aside $1 million for a program that subsidizes up to half the cost of treatments to protect ash trees found on private property, but only 500 of the 12,500 residents contacted by the city have taken advantage of the funds.
To date, the city has disbursed only $136,000.
"I don't know what more we could do beyond setting aside $1 million, writing property owners with ash trees on their land, sending out a reminder and advertising the program throughout the STM network," said Réal Ménard, the city's executive committee member in charge of sustainable development.
The opposition Projet Montréal contends, however, that the city hasn't done enough to get the word out this year.
"The city is not using its means of communications and persuasion," said city councillor Éric Alan Caldwell, who represents the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough.
While the city distributed a pamphlet and held information sessions last year, it hasn't repeated those efforts this year, Caldwell said.
The program is win-win for both residents who take advantage of it and the city, said Aurélie Delimal, of Éco-Quartier Saint-Laurent.
"It will cost you more to have the tree cut down, and a mature tree in your garden can really help reduce the city's heat island effect," she said.
Montreal residents wanting to take advantage of the subsidy this year have until August 31 to do so.
Earlier this year, the City of Montreal dedicated $18 million to fighting the emerald ash borer.
With files from Radio-Canada's Louis-Philippe Ouimet