Q & A

Q1. Who is affected by the emerald ash borer by-law?

All Montréal landowners who have ash trees on their property.

Q2. What is the aim of the by-law?

Monitor the management of private ash trees in the same way as public trees to ensure the success of Montréal’s plan to fight the emerald ash borer.

Q3. What are the obligations for owners of private ash trees?

Owners are required to:

  • Treat their trees with an ash borer-approved pesticide if their property is in one of the high-risk zones that the city has identified.
  • Obtain a felling permit to fell ash trees with a diameter greater than 15 cm.
  • Fell dead or sick trees on their property before December 31 of the years in which the trees were found to be in that state.
  • Dispose of felled ash trees in such a way that the risk of spreading the emerald ash borer is eliminated.
  • Not transport ash wood during the high-risk period (April 15 to Septembre 15).

Q4. Will owners receive financial assistance from the city with the costs incurred from treating or felling their ash trees?

Yes. Montréal has a subsidy program with a $1 million envelope to reimburse 50% of the costs of treating private trees in high-risk areas. As well, residents will not have to pay for a felling permit for ash trees. Contractors hired by owners can also bring ash wood from felled trees to one of the city’s processing sites at no charge. A form is required. This form is submitted with the logging permits. In the case of a pruning, ash tree owners can get this form at an Accès Montréal office and give it to their contractor.

Beginning in September, a new program to assist owners who have to fell their ash tree will come into force. To receive the information once it becomes available, subscribe to our newsletter.

Q5. What are the terms and conditions of eligibility for the subsidy program?

The program is for the treatment of ash trees on private property. The primary conditions for eligibility are:

  • Private property must be located on one or more of the areas declared as high-risk areas in the annex to the 2016 by-law.
  • Ash trees must have a minimum diameter of 15 cm measured from chest height (or dhp, measured at 1.4 m from ground level).
  • Ash trees must not have more than 30% of dead branches.
  • The product used must be TreeAzinTM, a low-toxicity pesticide for which the owner does not need to pay for a permit from the borough.
  • Treatments must take place between June 1 and August 31.
  • The maximum cost of treatment per unit must be $6 per centimetre of the trunk’s diameter. The subsidy covers 50% of the value before applicable taxes up to the maximum subsidy of $2,000 per private home over a two year period..
  • The subsidy program does not apply to homes of the Crown in right of Canada, the Crown in right of Québec, public institutions under the Act respecting health services and social services, or the Société de transport de Montréal, the Agence métropolitaine de transport or the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal.

The subsidy is given to the ash tree owner via reduced fees for treatment, directly on the bill provided by the tree service company (participating companies only).

Q6. Can owners of private ash trees use the wood from their felled trees for heating?

No. Ash wood is the main way that the emerald ash borer spreads. The ash borer can emerge from logs up to three years after the tree was cut. Storing ash wood can aggravate the infestation situation that the city is trying to control. Without the Montréal strategy, the emerald ash borer could create millions of dollars of loss related to felling and replacing trees over a few years’ time.

Q7. Does the by-law apply to other cities on the island of Montréal?

No. However, most cities on the island of Montréal have adopted legislation and strategies similar to Montréal’s. All of the neighbouring cities are collaborating closely with Montréal and each other to fight the emerald ash borer across the island of Montréal.

Q8. What are the high-risk areas?

High-risk areas are areas where the emerald ash borer was detected on ash trees during the testing campaign last fall. The entire Montréal area is now considered a high-risk zone.

Q9. What has the city done in high-risk areas?

All healthy trees on streets and plots in these areas areas are treated with the TreeAzinTM pesticide. Dying or dead trees, or those that present major structural problems, are felled and tagged to eliminate the ash borer.

Q10. Is the pesticide that the city uses to treat ash trees dangerous?

The city has used TreeAzinTM to treat public ash trees since 2012. This pesticide has low environmental toxicity and presents very little risk to human health. As well, no permit is required under Montréal’s By-law concerning pesticide use. Since the product is injected into trees, there’s very little risk of accidental contact with the public.

Q11. How long has the by-law been in force?

The by-law came into force on June 1, 2015.

Q12. What are the consequences if an owner refuses to comply with the regulation?

They face fines. Moreover, if an owner refuses to comply after receiving a 30-day notice, the City has the power to issue orders to carry out the work at his own expense. These fees therefore constitute a prior claim on the building where the work has been made and are secured by a legal hypothec on the building.

Q13. When should an ash tree be pruned or felled?

Although an ash tree can be felled at any time, the ideal period is between September 15 and April 15. If an ash tree is felled between April 15 and September 15, the wood must be transformed on site or stored for disposal after September 15. Moving the wood is formally prohibited under the by-law between April 15 and September 15. Residents are required to transform the wood or dispose of it on one of the city’s site after September 15. Ash wood cannot be stored to use for heating.

Felling an ash tree during the period when adult ash borers are active (April 15 to September 15) is subject to the same requirements as disposal of ash debris.

Q14. What are the requirements for woodland owners under the by-law?

Developed or undeveloped property with 25 ash trees or more are considered woodlands under the by-law. Owners have the same obligations as other owners. However, owners can submit an action plan to avoid treating all of the ash trees. The action plan, which must be a two-year plan, must include an inventory, testing and specific actions to fight the emerald ash borer.

Q15. What is the best time to treat ash trees?

The best time of year to treat an ash tree with the product subsidized by the city, TreeAzin, is from June 1 to August 31. Be aware that a city permit is required for other pesticides because of their toxicity.

Q16. To obtain a felling permit, should I contact the city or my borough?

You should contact your borough.

Q17. How much would the fine be for a non-compliant owner?

The basic fine would be between $350 and $700 for a physical person and between $700 and $1400 for a legal entity. For multiple offences, the fine would be between $1400 and $2000 or between $2800 and $4000 respectively.

Q18. Who conducts testing on private property? Does the owner do this and what is the procedure?

Generally, the property owner conducts testing to determine whether his or her ash tree is infested.

The test is only useful for determining whether the tree’s illness is irreversible or caused by the ash borer. If the tree presents minor signs or no signs of illness, it’s better to go ahead and invest in the treatment. If 30% or more of the tree’s branches are dead, it’s best to go ahead and get a felling permit and have the tree felled as soon as possible between September 15 and December 31. A dead tree becomes dangerous quickly, and is also more expensive to have felled because of the risk for pruners.

Q19. How much does it cost to treat a tree with TreeAzinTM?

The cost of treating an ash tree with the TreeAzinTM pesticide depends on a number of factors such as the number of trees that need treatment, the size of the tree, competitiveness between contractors who do treatments, etc. The cost of treating a tree is calculated according to its diameter in centimetres at a standard height of 1.4 m from the ground.

Q20. For how long can I treat my ash tree for the same cost as felling it?

It depends on the cost of treatment and the cost of felling, but this period generally varies from between 10 and 20 years. If you include the value of the ecological services the tree provides and the increase of the property’s real estate value, this period could even exceed 30 years.

For example, it could cost $3000 to fell a large ash tree with a diameter of 60 cm surrounded by obstacles, including removing the stump and planting a new tree. For the same amount, you could treat the tree every two years for a 20-year period at a cost of $4.50 per cm of diameter.

Q21. What impact will the ash borer have on Montréal's heat islands and what is
the city doing to limit them?

If nothing is done to counter the impacts, the ash borer could increase the number of heat islands in Montréal because of the loss of ash trees. The city's efforts to fight the ash borer, as well as the new by-law, aim to reduce ash tree mortality and avoid these negative impacts. The objective of these efforts is to conserve the maximum number of ash trees while gradually time-phasing the felling of ash trees that are not as much as possible.