Friday, April 17, 2020

Toronto Cherry Blossoms 2020

Update May 2, 2020: The cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Blossoms in Exhibition Place around the Liberty Grand May 2, 2020. You can see more of the blossoms on my post here.

Since High Park and Trinity Bellwoods Park are fenced off you have to take the virtual blossom tour on the City's BloomCam.

Now back to my original post.

Covid-19 can't cancel the beautiful blossoms that come with springtime, unfortunately the emergency pandemic precautions may keep us out of the parks - the most famous in Toronto being High Park. Even the Sakura in High Park website stopped updates on March 25 to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. There are a lot of places besides parks that you can find the occasional clump of fruit trees and you can always look towards those blossoms. Here are some blossoms from happier times as well as some recent spring flowers. You can find cherry trees all around Toronto and beautiful blossoms if the time is right - here are some places that you can find cherry trees on my post here.
High Park COVID-19 coronavirus update as of April 19, 2020: "The park is open but amenities inside the 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. Sorry folks, you may not be able to check out the cherry trees in full bloom this year." The City of Toronto has closed all amenities within parks, including parking lots, however the green spaces are open for now. While it is possible to walk in a park you may not be able to bring a car into the park, or find any parking. You will have to take public transit, bike or walk to the park. Also the premier or the mayor may take the precaution of closing High Park to all visitors during peak bloom.

Update April 22, 2020: The City will close the park before and during the Cherry Blossom Festival. See their media release at the bottom of this post. You can only see the blossoms when they live stream the blossoms.
 Past High Park cherry blossoms

2020 Cherry Blossom watch

As of April 18 the trees in Exhibition Place are sprouting florets that are extending and within weeks will be in peak bloom. The 68 Cherry trees were planted in 2002, donated by the Sakura Project and they can be found at the General Services Building, Bandshell Park, Princess Margaret Fountain, FountainBlu, Press Building and Liberty Grand.
Florets extending April 18

Liberty Grand
Princess Margaret Fountain

City of Toronto News Release, April 22, 2020 High Park cherry blossom festival going virtual during park closure to stop the spread of COVID-19:

"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 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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