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Invasive species expenditures to Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities

By: Ayushi Shah, ISC Policy & Program Development Coordinator 

In 2017 and 2018, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), the Invasive Species Centre (ISC) conducted a study of Ontario municipalities to assess their annual expenditures on invasive species prevention, detection, control and management. Analysis and projection on this accumulated data indicate that Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities are collectively spending $38.8 million/year, or an average of $381,403/year per municipality. Protecting landscapes from invasive species is important because Ontario’s agriculture, fisheries, forests, healthcare, tourism, and recreation industries provide estimated economic benefits of $3.6 billion/year

While the projections are accurate based on the data received from inventory respondents, the ISC and other stakeholders anticipate that expenditures are an underestimate of the true total cost of invasive species to Ontario’s municipalities and conservation authorities. Data limitations include some missing data and assumption of accurate data encompassing expenses from all departments; for example, in some cases there was heavy bias towards forestry impacts and lack of representation from other public works sectors including water/wastewater and storm water management, transportation and infrastructure, and waste management. 

This year, the ISC and the Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario (RPWCO) are conducting a comprehensive survey to evaluate costs of invasive species to Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities. Our objective is to capture department-specific invasive species concerns, update current estimates of annual municipal expenditures on invasive species, build on results from previous work, and account for known data limitations. To do this, we reached out to various department managers in Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities and asked them to complete our department-specific invasive species expenditure inventories. The anticipated completion date for this study is August 2019. Below are preliminary results from the 2019 survey. These include information on budgets for invasive species prevention and management and invasive species of concern (some of these species are already present in Ontario and some, including Asian carp and oak wilt, are not present).

 

The study will further analyze actual and estimated total expenditures per municipality and conservation authority, species-specific expenditures, estimated additional funding required to meet management objectives, and more. This information is useful to inform existing and potential invasive species-related expenditures incurred by Ontario municipalities and conservation authorities. Stay tuned for this year’s full report and fact sheet!