high park cherry blossoms

Toronto is considering closing High Park to prevent people from gathering for cherry blossoms

Every year in late April and early May, hordes of people gather daily in Toronto's High Park to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms — and that's precisely why Toronto is considering closing the park altogether this year.

The Sakura cherry trees, planted mostly around Hillside Gardens, are expected to bloom early this year, but Toronto Mayor John Tory says the park will likely have to close to prevent crowds of people from congregating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with CP24, Tory said closing the park is unfortunate and will be difficult to enforce, but there aren't really any other options.

"I really hate to say this but we are going to have a plan and it may well involve just closing the park for that period of time. I have talked about the difficulty in practical terms in closing parks. Big parks like High Park, what are you going to do put yellow tape around the entire park?" he said.

"But I think what we have talked about is closing vehicle access to the park entirely so that people can’t take their cars in 'cause a lot of people who come to see the cherry blossoms come from elsewhere in the city. It is a shame but it is just one of those things where health has to come first."

The High Park Toronto website also indicates that large groups are prohibited from gathering in parks and that residents won't likely be able to witness the trees in full bloom in person this year.

"All Toronto parks are closed. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak gatherings of large groups are prohibited. This includes crowds at High Park to watch the cherry blossoms," the website states. "Sorry folks, you may not be able to check out the cherry trees in full bloom this year - it depends on the closures."

Toronto has closed all amenities in the approximately 1,500 parks across the city to prevent people from congregating, though many have blatantly ignored the new rules

In light of this, Tory approved and signed a new bylaw last week requiring all people in parks and public squares to maintain a distance of two metres or risk facing a hefty fine of up to $5,000. 

Tory also told CP24 that a livestream of the cherry blossoms is one potential way for residents to admire the beautiful trees without gathering and putting each other at risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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