Residents can experience virtual cherry blossom bloom during closure of High Park

News Release

April 29, 2020

Residents can experience virtual cherry blossom bloom during closure of High Park

Based on the recommendations of the Medical Officer of Health to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, the City is taking action to prevent crowding and gathering in High Park during the cherry blossom bloom.

With the peak bloom period about to begin, the City of Toronto is closing High Park starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 30. During the park closure, residents will be able to enjoy the cherry blossom bloom virtually.

Throughout the closure period, the City will provide a continuous livestream of the cherry tree grove in High Park, plus multiple live events and videos featuring virtual walk-throughs of the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees.

BloomCam, the continuous live stream, is now live. The timing of live events is weather-dependent and will be announced on the City’s website and corporate social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information and links to the videos visit https://www.toronto.ca/cherryblossoms.

The City would like to thank its virtual experience partners, the Toronto Public Library Bookmobile and Rogers, for powering the internet connectivity needed to bring this year’s High Park cherry blossom bloom into viewers’ homes.

During two 30-minute livestream events, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper André Morrisseau will recognize the traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples through a Land Acknowledgement and experts from the High Park Nature Centre will guide viewers through nature and history walks focused on Toronto’s cherry blossom trees.

Every year, thousands of people visit High Park to view the cherry blossom trees in bloom. The blossoms typically last between four and 10 days, depending on weather. The peak bloom period traditionally occurs from late April to early May.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, High Park is closed during the bloom period, as maintaining proper physical distancing will not be possible. This closure follows similar responses that have occurred in Japan, Korea, Europe and Washington, D.C. The closure will continue until the bloom period is completed. An end closure date will be communicated once it is confirmed.

The allotment gardens in High Park will not be open or accessible during this closure. More details about the garden allotments will be announced later this week.

A coordinated team of Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff, Municipal Licensing & Standards bylaw enforcement officers and members of the Toronto Police Service will be in and around High Park to 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.

The cherry blossoms area at Trinity Bellwoods Park is now enclosed by fencing, with enforcement patrols occurring during bloom period. If required, City enforcement officials and Toronto Police Services may patrol other smaller sites of cherry blossoms in Toronto.

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.

Quotes:

“We made the difficult decision to close the entire park because it is the only way we can keep people from gathering to see the blossoms and risking further spread of COVID-19. This is about protecting public health and saving lives. I know this will be particularly frustrating for High Park residents who use the park daily for exercise. Thank you for your ongoing understanding that we are following public health advice and we appreciate your sacrifice over the next few days.”
– Mayor John Tory

“As with many experiences during COVID-19, this virtual presentation of the blossoms shows that we can always find new ways to come together as a community.”

– Councillor Gord Perks, Parkdale-High Park (Ward 4)