NEWS
03/24/2014 09:36 EDT | Updated 05/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Emerald ash borer beetles infest hundreds of Montreal trees

A bite-sized pest is causing a million-dollar problem for the city of Montreal.

The emerald ash borer is a type of beetle that infests ash trees and eats them from the inside.

City of Montreal officials say that roughly 200 trees on the island are currently infested.

In the borough of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, 75 trees have already been cut down.

“The emerald ash borer knows no borders … It’s attacking all our trees. We believe a concerted plan must be put in effect right away. There’s no point in waiting. It is here and it is killing trees right now,” said Côte-des-Neiges—NDG councillor Peter McQueen, adding that the summer months will be more uncomfortable with fewer trees in the neighbourhood.

"Property values will fall, air conditioning costs will go up and during heat waves even more people — elderly people, vulnerable people with respiratory problems — will pass away during those heat waves if we lose more trees.

More funding required

City officials say they’ve put aside $1 million a year to tackle the problem, but agree it isn’t enough to get rid of the beetles. They want help from the province.

“I don’t believe we will solve this issue only with the public money coming from the administration of Montreal,” said Réal Ménard, the city’s executive committee member in charge of sustainable development.

Ménard said the city hopes the next Quebec government will jump in with funding for better treatments for ash trees and better screening for the bug.