by Larry Johnston
There is one thing that everyone agrees on, the invasion of the Emerald Ash
Beetle and the ice storm of last winter have been a disaster for the Guildwood
The forest has occupied a large portion of the 88-acre former property of the
Guild Inn. The borer, EAB for short, has spread across Ontario on the
prevailing west wind much faster than the experts originally thought it would.
Toronto’s suburbs had been particularly hard hit as efforts to cut down or inoculate
trees in its path have been largely a failure.
In their boldest move yet, the Toronto Parks department hired specialists to
identify and remove nearly all the ash trees in Guildwood Park, 60 per cent
of the total. When the right time arrives, they will be replaced by a variety of
native tree species.
The destruction has the neighborhood grieving as well, says Sherri Lange, one of
a group of residents questioning the City's methods. Stacks of logs have been
left behind because the City has not yet found someone to carry them away.
Three years ago, when the City started cutting down ash trees, they wound up in
wood chippers, but it is now too late for that and all of Ontario south of
Algonquin Park is now considered EAB infested territory. It is not the beetle
that is the real problem, but the virus that is spread around the tree. Toronto
has inoculated 13,000 trees.
But Lange says that Chicago is trying to save 70,000 trees in its battle with
the beetle in the hope that an antidote can be found in the next year or two.
The Canadian federal authority, the food inspection agency, no longer believes
in clear-cutting forests and woodlots in the path of EAB.
Lange says it is unfortunate that people were too busy with the ice storm to
attend a public meeting on EAB in the Guild Park early in January. Now they are
even considering legal action.
John Mason, head of the Friends of Guild Inn and Gardens, first became aware of
the parks department plans for the forest at a public meeting last fall. The
Friends are a sub-committee of the Guildwood Village Community
Association and he says legal action at this point can only delay the
regeneration of the park.
The forest was neglected for years, just like the Inn itself, he says.
Now, the remains of the forest are dangerous. The piles of logs could fall on
someone and there have been people, particularly media, climbing all over them.
A fully-licensed arborist has been working on the Guild's ash trees since last
fall, sorting out those that can be saved from those requiring removal. The
only chemical for inoculation approved in Canada, TreeAzin, does not appear to
work on the oldest trees, so some of the most magnicent ash trees will be among
those beyond saving.