The City of Charlottetown is launching an aggressive management plan to tackle the growing Dutch elm disease problem in the Capital City.
The City has been dealing with Dutch elm disease (DED), an incurable and deadly fungal disease of elm trees, since 1996. Efforts to curb the spread of the disease have included:
• planting DED resistant elm cultivars and a variety of other tree species to increase the biodiversity of the urban forest to make it less susceptible to insects, pests and diseases;
• annually inoculating healthy elms to increase their resistance to the disease;
• and removing infected trees as they become a hazard or pose a risk to people or property.
Despite past efforts, the number of dead or diseased elms has grown at a significant pace. With a proper management plan, it is possible to save some of the remaining elms.
"The City of Charlottetown is not unique in its struggle with Dutch elm disease. We have consulted with other municipalities and completed extensive research on this problem and the variety of ways in which others have tried to deal with it," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. "Charlottetown has many majestic, historic elms that provide numerous economic, social and environmental benefits to this city and its citizens. We believe the remaining healthy elms are worth saving and the only way we’re going to be successful is to rid the City of all of the dead and diseased elm trees so they stop infecting the healthy trees."
The City completed a survey of elm trees on public and private land and determined that of the 583 elms, there are 260 that are still healthy. 127 elms are diseased or dead on public property and 196 are diseased or dead on private property. The City will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a contractor to cut down all diseased or dead elm trees. Property owners with dead or diseased elms will be contacted in advance of any work taking place. The City will cover the cost of this project.
"Research has shown us that the best time to complete this between September and April, so our goal is to try to find a contractor who can do this work by the end of April," said Councillor Kevin Ramsay, Chairman of the City’s Advanced Planning, Priorities and Special Projects committee. "As part of our management of DED, we are also committed to reinstating any property that might be damaged as a result of taking these trees down, and we will also re-plant two trees for every elm tree we are removing from public property."
The City expects to issue the RFP before the end of January, with the contract being awarded in mid-February and the work beginning immediately after. Councillor Ramsay said the difficulty will be finding a contractor that can take on such a large project in such as short timeline.
In the Spring, ongoing monitoring will take place to ensure the healthy trees continue to show no signs of DED infection.
A public education session on Dutch elm disease will be held before the end of February. The public will be given an opportunity to ask questions, review survey results and maps, and learn more about how to protect their healthy elms from DED.
A webpage with more information on Dutch elm disease is available at www.charlottetown.ca.
Still have questions? Contact the City of Charlottetown at: 902-566-5548.
City of Charlottetown