Cherry blossoms at Toronto’s High Park to be blocked off, but park set to stay open this year

Click to play video: 'Toronto bylaw officers caught posing for photos with fenced-off cherry trees' Toronto bylaw officers caught posing for photos with fenced-off cherry trees
WATCH ABOVE: For weeks Toronto residents have been asked to make sacrifices and avoid groups, especially those who would like to see the city’s cherry blossoms. But photos showing bylaw officers enjoying cherry blossoms they’re keeping crowds away from have flagged an apparent double-standard. Matthew Bingley reports – May 8, 2020

With the looming blooms of Toronto’s cherry blossom trees, municipal officials have announced a plan to block off access to the ones at High Park again this year.

However, there is good news for those who regularly visit High Park as it’s not expected to see the same large-scale closure that occurred in 2020.

During a news conference at Toronto city hall Wednesday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said the three main concentrations of cherry blossoms at High Park would be fenced off to “discourage” people from gathering.

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

“I know last year many people who enjoyed High Park on a daily basis were upset to see the park closed during the cherry blossom blooming period,” he said, adding the livestream of the High Park trees will return again this year.

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“We want people to enjoy the blossoms virtually and safely, and we still want people to enjoy the park.”

Last year, it was announced the park would be closed to members of the general public during the pre-bloom and the blooming period. Tory at the time said the move was meant to keep people safe.

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

Read more: Cherry blossom festival starts Saturday as flowers begin to bloom at Toronto’s High Park

If convicted, fines for violating the closure order at the time ranged between $750 and $5,000.

Despite the presence of police and bylaw officers at the park, there were instances where people jumped the fences.

Tory said on Wednesday staff are hopeful people won’t jump the fences this year.

READ MORE: Fences installed around Trinity Bellwoods cherry blossoms in effort to stop crowds

“We have to rely on people at some point in time to understand that if they want to have the ability to use the park, to have a walk or to have a cycle in order to be outside in the fresh air as people want to do at this time, they’re going to have to follow the very clear parameters that will be set out by this fencing,” he said.

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“We will be monitoring it continuously and we will do whatever we have to do on the advice of Toronto Public Health … we will do whatever we have to do to maintain public health.”

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

Municipal officials also barricaded the cherry blossom trees at Trinity Bellwoods Park during the 2020 season, but it wasn’t announced if there would be a similar closure this year.

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