Thunder Bay city councillors have delayed a decision on whether to adopt a proposed action plan to combat the emerald ash borer in the city.

Administration was looking for approval — as well as $550,000 in the 2017 municipal budget — to start treating eligible ash trees with an injected chemical that destroys the invasive beetle and its larvae. Other trees would be removed and replaced with other species.
After an hour and a half-long discussion, councillors voted to refer the matter back to city staff, citing a lack of detail in the report, and a desire to see other options explored, including ways to potentially bring the cost down, or recoup some of the money.

The report is slated back sometime this fall.

Council also spoke about how the municipality shouldn’t solely be on the hook for the price tag of dealing with the pest, which is expected to cost millions over the next decade. To that end, they passed another resolution in a separate vote calling on the provincial and federal governments to do more to provide funding for municipalities.

“This is a national issue, this is a provincial issue,” Coun. Andrew Foulds said. “Municipalities that get eight cents for every tax dollar are expected to do the heavy lifting, this is totally unacceptable.”

The ash borer was first confirmed in the city in late June, in the area of Memorial Avenue and 4th Avenue.

City forester Shelley Vescio told council that some trees in the area have already been taken down and securely transported to be destroyed. She added that her department also has some money available to start some tree treatments this year.