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Coronavirus: Toronto’s High Park to temporarily close in effort to stop cherry blossom crowds

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Toronto’s High Park set to close for cherry blossom season' Coronavirus: Toronto’s High Park set to close for cherry blossom season
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Toronto said it plans on providing a virtual tour of the cherry blossoms at High Park as an alternative to keeping the park open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kamil Karamali reports.

City of Toronto officials say High Park will be temporarily closed in anticipation of crowds flocking to see the cherry blossoms in bloom, marking another parks-related closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by Mayor John Tory. He said the park would be closed to members of the general public during the pre-bloom and the blooming period.

The closure dates are weather dependent and Tory said the dates will be announced in the near future.

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Tory said the move is meant to keep people safe.

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“Believe me I have no interest in closing parks … but we want to save lives,” he said, adding police and bylaw officers will be at the site to enforce public health and government orders.

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If convicted, fines for violating the closure order can range between $750 and $5,000.

Tory said staff looked at a partial closure of the park, but found it wasn’t practical given the park’s size and layout.

Although there are several sites across Toronto that have cherry blossoms, High Park — the city’s largest public park and located southwest of Keele Street and Bloor Street West — draws thousands of people for the annual blooms.

According to the City of Toronto, 50 cherry trees were planted in the park in 2017 and 2018. Most of the trees are located on the west side of Grenadier Pond.

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Fencing is also being installed around the cherry blossoms at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

For those hoping to see the cherry blossoms, Tory said an online livestreams of the trees at High Park will be setup.