Halton Struggling to Deal With Invasive Species

Published March 18, 2019 at 8:50 pm

It has been recognized that there is a need for federal leadership when it comes to municipalities dealing with invasive species.

It has been recognized that there is a need for federal leadership when it comes to municipalities dealing with invasive species. So, it may not come as a shock to find out that the Halton Region is just one of many regions that is trying to deal with this issue.

And recently, last month, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources tabled its report ‘Insect Management in Canada’s Forest sector: Strengthening National Cooperation Against Current and Future Outbreaks.’  

On a recent post on Pam Damoff’s website, MP for Oakville North-Burlington and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, it was noted that the report recommended a meeting consisting of the federal, provincial, territorial, indigenous governments as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The goal of this meeting would be for all those involved to create a national strategy in order to deal with invasive insects and diseases, including their impact on the urban forest.

One specific invasive species that has impacted southwestern Ontario – including areas in the Halton Region – is Emerald Ash Borer – a forest pest native to Asia.

This pest has killed millions of Ash trees in southwestern Ontario. 

As a result, as noted in the post, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has banned the movement of firewood and any material made from Ash trees outside of designated areas under an Infested Places Order.

In the post, Damoff highlighted how dealing with invasive species (like Emerald Ash Borer) has been handled by the federal government in the past.

“I recall when I was on Oakville Town Council learning of the challenges municipalities faced when dealing with an invasive species like Emerald Ash Borer,” Damoff said.  “While the federal government identifies invasive species, once that identification is done it is basically left to the individual municipalities to deal with the issue. 

“Recognizing that bugs don’t recognize borders, it hampers the efforts to eradicate an invasive species when there isn’t a coordinated national strategy matched by federal and provincial funding,” Damoff continued. “As a result, each municipality was left to its own devices to determine both how to deal with the attack on our urban forest, and to pay for the outcome of the devastation.”

Regardless, Halton municipalities are working to manage Emerald Ash Borer.

As noted in the post, Oakville has budgeted $2.5 million in its 2019 budget for Emerald Ash Borer management.

Back in 2017, it was announced that contractors would be injecting 250 infected ash trees in the Town of Milton with TreeAzin – an insecticide to kill Emerald Ash Borer insects and larvae – to help preserve the life of the trees. 

Furthermore, Burlington has been actively working on planting more trees in the city.

In a recent blog post, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward shared her thoughts regarding the recommended national strategy.

“I am extremely happy the Federal Standing Committee on Natural Resources is recommending the creation of a coordinated national strategy to deal with invasive insects and diseases,” Mayor Meed Ward said. “And it’s great news our own Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff sat on the committee hearings during the study and that she was able to extend its reach to include urban forests.

Meed Ward continued to explain why a national strategy would be effective.

“Burlington has been battling the Emerald Ash Borer for years and is now dealing with the Gypsy Moth as well — both are ravaging part of our urban tree canopy,” Meed Ward said. “Our city council is dedicating hundreds of thousands of dollars to woodlot maintenance and tree-planting as protective measures as a result. With the concern of infestation becoming a growing problem, the City of Burlington will also be looking at long-term programming and resources in dealing with these invasive species. A coordinated national strategy will surely help what has become a cross-municipal borders issue.”

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