Over the past couple of years, the Cote des Neiges–Notre Dame de Grace borough has spent thousands of dollars and ultimately has had to cut down 250 ash trees due to the emerald ash borer.

The beetles are classified as an invasive species and were first detected in Montreal in 2011. Trees found to be infested with the insects are normally cut down and turned into wood chips, but the borough is finding ways to give a new life to all that dead wood.

Jeunes Marins Urbain is a non-profit organization created in April. It aims to teach young people how to build a boat from scratch and school them on the ways of maritime life. In the past they've used a water-proofed material to cover plywood, but ash is much better -- it’s stronger, and a boat made of ash can last for longer, 20 even 30 years, said organizer Yves Plante.

“It's very bad to see all this fantastic material go directly to make a small chair. Come on. It’s fantastic wood we can do much better than that,” he said.

Right now, the new boat they’re building from the repurposed wood is nothing more than frames, some stringers and a keel that's waiting to be installed. They’re hoping to finish it in a few weeks.

Lionel Perez, a Cote des Neiges-NDG city councillor, said giving the wood to the organization is a way to turn the tragedy of having to cut down so many trees into an opportunity.

“We're the first borough to be able to use such a program to be able to repurpose such amounts of wood. We're looking at over 700 planks for this one boat,” he said.

The borough is also launching a project to turn usable ash wood into park benches.