Based on the recommendations of the Medical Officer of Health to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, the City of Toronto is working to make the High Park cherry blossoms available online during the upcoming park closure.
Every year tens of thousands of people visit High Park to view the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees. The blossoms typically last between four and 10 days, depending on weather. The peak bloom time period traditionally occurs from late April to early May.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, High Park will be closed during the pre-bloom and peak bloom period of the cherry blossom trees, as maintaining proper physical distancing will not be possible. The park closure dates are weather-dependent and will be announced when the bloom period is determined.
To encourage residents to stay home and stay safe, the City is working on a virtual walk-through of the blossoming trees in High Park. Residents will be able to experience this year’s cherry blossom season through multiple livestream events and videos. More details will be announced soon.
High Park is already closed to vehicle traffic. Roads through the park were closed off when the City moved to close park amenities based on public health’s advice.
This closure follows similar cherry blossom crowd control responses that have already occurred in Japan, Korea, Europe and Washington, D.C.
Park enforcement City bylaw officers and the Toronto Police Service will ensure residents are complying with the closure. Municipal bylaws give the General Manager of Parks, Forestry & Recreation the authority to close a park in the interest of public safety. Violations related to accessing a closed City park can result in a set fine of $750 if a ticket is paid voluntarily, but the maximum fine can be $5,000.
While we understand many residents use High Park every day, a partial closure of the park isn’t possible given the number of cherry blossom trees throughout the park and the size and layout of the park itself. Health and parks staff believe this is the best plan to discourage gathering and protect public health.
The cherry blossoms area at Trinity Bellwoods Park will be enclosed by fencing with enforcement patrols during the bloom period. City enforcement officials and Toronto Police Services may patrol other smaller sites of cherry blossoms in Toronto.
During the closure, Parks staff will undertake extensive work on the park that includes:
• Removal of litter, debris, branches and other material that accumulates over the winter;
• Grass cutting, turf maintenance, tree cutting and horticultural bed maintenance, and
• Animal care, repairs to benches and maintenance activities, such as painting.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.
“I know this closure will be tough for local residents who enjoy High Park year-round and those who look forward to seeing the cherry blossoms every year. This virtual event and the proactive closure is meant to ensure the traditional overcrowding that happens at High Park during the annual cherry blossom bloom does not occur this year to further stop the spread of COVID-19. We are following the advice of our professional public health officials to protect the health and safety of all residents and park visitors. Thank you in advance to the vast majority of residents who will respect this closure and understand this is needed to save lives. I look forward to joining residents in High Park
in future years – after we have won the war against COVID-19 – to enjoy the cherry blossoms again.”
– Mayor John Tory
“This will be disappointing both for people who love the Cherry Blossoms, and people who regularly use the park. But, our first duty is to keep each other safe.”
– Councillor Gord Perks, Parkdale-High Park (Ward 4)
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