Toronto's cherry blossom bloom forced online for second straight year
People take photographs of a fenced off cherry blossoms at a park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, May 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
TORONTO -- For the second year in a row, Torontonians looking to take in the annual cherry blossom bloom in High Park will have to do so virtually.
The decision was made based on the current transmission of COVID-19 throughout the city amid the third wave of the pandemic.
While the park itself will remain open for cyclists and pedestrians looking to get out of the house during the provincewide stay-at-home order, access to areas of the park with cherry blossom trees will not be permitted during their pre-bloom & peak bloom period.
“We are encouraging people not to flock to the park to see the cherry blossoms,” Mayor John Tory said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Instead, just like last year, the city will be offering up a livestream of the event so people can watch it at home.
Tory said that last year some 200,000 tuned into the virtual event.
Before COVID-19, people would gather at the park in droves to watch the bloom, something the city is trying to avoid as it continues to record hundreds of cases of the novel coronavirus on a daily basis.
To prevent such gatherings, the city says three areas of High Park which feature cherry blossom trees, including Cherry Hill, near the sports fields and Jamie Bell Playground, will be enclosed with fencing. Vehicle access to the park will not be allowed, with the exception of TTC Wheel-Trans and other City service vehicles.
As well, city enforcement officials and Toronto Police officers will be onsite to prevent vehicle access to the park and ensure people stay away from the fenced off areas of the park.