The City of Toronto has launched a 24-hour livestream and is planning a virtual tour of the High Park cherry blossoms, which have been fenced off to prevent crowding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stream reveals little more than barren trees and damp trails at the moment, but as the city is planning to physically block off access to the park starting tomorrow, it will be the only way to get your fill of the beautiful buds.
“We made the difficult decision to close the entire park because it is the only way we can keep people from gathering to see the blossoms and risking further spread of COVID-19,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said Wednesday. “This is about protecting public health and saving lives.”
In addition to the stream, the city will broadcast Indigenous Knowledge Keeper André Morrisseau’s land acknowledgement, and city parks staff will hold a virtual tour of the grounds and comment on the history of the park’s cherry blossoms.
"I think you will find many things that are of interest in many things that will allow you to experience the blossoms," Tory said.
A team of parks, bylaw and police officers will patrol the park, warning anyone attempting to enterthat they will be fined anywhere from $750 to a maximum of $5,000.
The city says the blooming of cherry blossom trees can last anywhere between four and ten days.
High Park will reopen to the public once the bloom is over.
Officials say the closure of High Park will also prevent access to the allotment gardens in the park. Allotment and community gardens were made essential by provincial decree last week.
The smaller grouping of cherry blossom trees at Trinity-Bellwoods Park has also been closed to the public and temporarily surrounded with metal fencing.
"The cherry blossoms will bloom again next year and I look forward to seeing them in person with Toronto residents at that time, hopeful that by then COVID-19 will be confined to the history books and to the medical journals throughout this crisis," Tory said.