Guelph could lose 7,000 ash trees as a result of the emerald ash borer issue over the next few years and it will cost over $4 million to manage the problem.
City staff has forecast budget requests totaling $4.2 million to treat, remove and replace ash trees on city-owned property. That includes a $500,000 request in the 2017 budget.
"It could be as many as 8,000 trees," said Martin Neumann, the city's Manager of Forestry.
And that's just on city-owned property. Ash trees on private property are the property owner's problem.
Roughly 3,000 to 4,000 of those trees expected to die are in forests where there will be natural reforestation, but the same amount are on streets and trees and have to be treated or removed.
"A lot of the trees are lasting longer than we thought," said Neumann. "But I think in the next two to three years we're going to see a crush of trees that need to be removed."
The city is continuing with a program to treat ash trees that they hope can be saved.
The city replaces the dead and dying ash trees with a variety of native species.
There is another $600,000 request anticipated in 2018 and $2.4 million from 2020 to 2026, bringing the total to $4.2 million.
The emerald ash borer came to Canada in 2002 and was first discovered in Guelph in 2011.