City ash wood and firewood ban backed by stiff fines

By Sheilla Jones

WARNING: Transporting any firewood out of the City of Winnipeg could result in a $1,300 fine.

In January 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) declared with entire City of Winnipeg as a quarantine zone for the movement of ash wood and all firewood. This comes after ash trees infested with the Emerald Ash borer (EAB) were confirmed in a St. Boniface residential neighbourhood.

Government officials admit that there is no way to prevent the spread of the deadly borer. They can only slow down the spread by restricting the movement of all ash wood out of the city, and banning the movement of all firewood out of the restricted zone.

“The idea is to control the pathways of spreading,” said Jason Watts, regional program manager for CFIA, “The problem with firewood is that most firewood buyers cannot distinguish between ash wood and other kinds of wood. And firewood is the easiest way to spread EAB.”

EAB is a particularly deadly pest. It kills its host ash tree within three-to-five years by destroying the sapwood under the bark, killing the tree from the crown down and from the roots up.

To control the movement of ash wood, CFIA has instituted legal penalties for individuals and commercial enterprises that transport ash wood or firewood out of Winnipeg.

The penalties include fines for individuals of up to $1,300, with commercial enterprises facing fines of up to $15,000.

In the event that CFIA elects to prosecute an offender who is found guilty, that offender could face up to two years in prison or fines of up to $250,000.

The City of Winnipeg is advising people who want to dispose of ash wood material (branches, logs, etc.) to transport it directly to the Brady Road landfill site. The Brady site is inside the city limits, but anyone transporting ash material to the landfill should be aware they must travel inside the restricted zone at all times.