By Robert Frank
“Tree canopy covers 35 per cent of Beaconsfield, out of which 20 per cent—or seven per cent of our total territory—is ash trees,” Mayor Georges Bourelle told the standing room only crowd that packed the city council chamber, Sept. 22.
Many residents expressed misgivings about the significant cost to the city and its homeowners of adhering to a draft bylaw aimed at saving the city’s ash trees from extermination by emerald ash borer (EAB) insects.
Beacon Hill resident Daniel Mongeau asked the city to consider replacing ash trees with other species, in the interest of biodiversity, rather than pushing the mass injection of the pesticide TreeAzin, which also affects bees.
Bourelle refused to allow Beaconsfield Citizens’ Association president Al Gardner to read a proposal pleading for the city “to relax its existing bylaw to allow homeowners to fell healthy trees as a pre-emptive measure.”
“This could give other trees a better chance of survival and provide space to plant new trees and ensure an adequate canopy over the medium- and long-term,” Gardner said in the proposal, which he subsequently provided to The Suburban.
In addition, he wants the city “to re-evaluate mandatory treatment or felling and how to deal with the 100-metre containment zone, especially considering the imminent threat to maple trees by the Asian longhorned beetle, which will also have serious financial implications.”
Gardner called on the city to form a committee comprised of city officials, elected councilors and citizens to deal with the problem. Bourelle replied that the issue will be dealt with “in caucus” by elected councilors behind closed doors.
During the Monday council meeting, the city passed a resolution asking the provincial government to help deal with the EAB infestation.
“We’re trying to send a signal to Quebec City that it’s an expensive situation for all municipalities,” Bourelle said.
“We are out of the Angell Woods file,” he added, announcing that the Montreal agglomeration council voted to pass a new urban plan, Sept. 18, that has frozen development activities in urban forests, “including Angell Woods.”
Following the council meeting, Bourelle told reporters that the agglomeration council will henceforth determine the zoning of land in Angell Woods which, he said “probably has 10,000 ash trees. We don’t necessarily want to save them all, but at least 7,000-8,000. It’s a big bill.”
“There will be very low density residential development at the south end of the forest,” he said. “There will be no transit-oriented development near Beaurepaire commuter train station. There will be for Beaconsfield station.”
He indicated that the agglo will hold public meetings on the agglo’s new urban plan Oct. 22, in Dollard des Ormeaux the banquet hall. There will also be hearings at Montreal city hall, Nov. 6, 11 and 12.
“For those who would like to present a brief there, the deadline is Nov. 3,” said Bourelle, who is a member of the agglo urban planning committee, as is Sainte Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa.
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