The city of Montreal will spend $18 million in 2016 to treat trees affected by the emerald ash borer.

The invasive beetle has been munching its way through forests in Eastern Canada for several years, and arrived on the island five years ago.

City officials have a two-part plan to deal with the insect: cut down trees that have been badly damaged or are at risk of being damaged, and treating trees in the line of fire with TreeAzin, a pesticide.

"We have an injection with a biopesticide they call TreeAzin, and when we have TreeAzin we are going to save this tree for two years," said Real Menard.

"If in the future we have research and development and a new way to do that, we're going to do that."

They have also stepped up plans to plant 21,000 new trees in the city, to compensate for the thousands of trees that are being lost to the insect.

Forest ecologist Dan Kneeshaw said the emerald ash borer is extremely difficult to control.

“The populations keep growing. It just has to find one tree that's not protected and the populations can colonize other trees, there are just too many trees,” he said.

Kneeshaw said it would be preferable to start planting other types of trees.

“In the 1970s, Montreal had like 30,000 elm trees and they all got cut down and replaced with ash,” he said. “We have to have a strategy to diversify the city makes sure we have 10 or 20 different species growing everywhere, not just three or four or five different species.”

Sylvain Ouellet, the opposition critic for the environment, is disputing the figures supplied by the city.

He says that Montreal has only planted about 1,000 trees in the past two years, and says it should have planted close to 11,000.

Ouellet said Montreal is very unlikely to meet its goal of increasing the amount of vegetation cover from 20 to 25 per cent by 2025.  

Home owners are being asked to treat infected ash trees on their properties.

The city offers subsidies which cover half the cost.