The city’s battle with an infestation of emerald ash borers is what’s behind this drastic step, which will see the city eliminate hundreds of ash trees from city-owned properties.

“It’s probably one of the most aggressive introduced tree pests that we have ever had to deal with,” says David Schmitt, the city’s manager of environmental and urban forest projects.

The emerald ash borer is a tiny insect that burrows under the bark of ash trees and lays thousands of eggs, cutting off the tree’s circulation.

The ash borer has been spotted in virtually every neighbourhood in Kitchener, but tree-cutting efforts will begin this year with 600 trees in the city’s south end.

On Windrush Trail, one of the affected streets, every single ash tree on the boulevard will be taken down

Residents say it will have a drastic effect on the neighbourhood.

“It was disappointing to see that so many lovely trees are going to have to be cut down,” says resident Marilyn Cook.

City officials estimate that 5,000 trees, or about 80 per cent of the city’s collection, will be cut down over the next five years.

The program will cost taxpayers $4 million for removal of infected trees and another $6 million to plant replacement trees.