Viewing the cherry blossoms at High Park has become an annual spring tradition for thousands hoping to catch a glimpse of the pink flowers on Toronto’s Sakura trees. But this year, the City of Toronto is offering 24-hour “virtual viewing” options of the blossoms.
The livestream was implemented after the city closed the park, and fenced off the blossoms on Thursday, as part of COVID-19 public safety measures.
“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,” Mayor John Tory said Wednesday in a press conference.
High Park is closed but you can still virtually experience the #cherryblossoms via the 24-hour BloomCam. There will be multiple live events and videos featuring virtual walk-throughs of the Sakura trees during peak bloom. More info: https://t.co/HnOvsdqGlw #BloomAtHome pic.twitter.com/jvYRyD5qfq
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 29, 2020
To encourage Toronto residents to stay home, the city is planning multiple virtual cherry blossom experiences on a variety of social media platforms during peak bloom. Dates and times depend on the weather, but flower-lovers will be able to take a “virtual walk” through the blossoming trees.
Livestream events will also feature experts from the High Park Nature Centre, who will guide viewers through nature and history walks (focusing on Toronto’s cherry blossom trees). Indigenous knowledge keeper André Morrisseau will take viewers through the traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples through a “live land acknowledgement.”
And then there’s the 24-hour BloomCam, where you can watch the progress of the cherry tree blooms until peak bloom ends via the city’s YouTube page.
So far, the reaction to High Park being closed hasn’t been cheery.
I, for one, will not be bamboozled by this cherry blossom cam @JohnTory !
I use #highpark every day, walking alone or with my partner and within health guidelines, and I know countless others follow the rules and rely on access to green space during these trying times, too.
— hologram peach (@heather_claire) April 30, 2020
— #GrowthMindset (@georgeemerson) April 30, 2020
There’s no signage, and therefore no explanation of the rules and parameters of the closure.
— Adam McDowell (@A_McDo) April 30, 2020
.@cityoftoronto @cityoftoronto @JohnTory Here’s an idea… why not put the steel barricades around the 2 cherry blossom areas in HP and then have the bi law officers there to ensure no one is stopping. Then locals can still enjoy #highpark It’s overkill what you’re doing.
— Joy McCarthy (@joyoushealth) April 30, 2020
High Park attracts thousands of visitors each year in early spring to admire the cherry blossoms. The cherry trees are typically in full bloom in late April or early May and last for about a week to a week-and-a-half.
While visitors can’t be there in person this year, some are finding the upside to the 24-hour livestream.
— sarah henstock (@sarah_henstock) April 30, 2020
— Jessica Ng 🎗 (@Jessicangtv) April 30, 2020
In addition to High Park, the city also enclosed the cherry blossom trees at Trinity Bellwoods park with fences, and is increasing enforcement during the bloom period, to ensure that residents practise physical distancing.
Life does continue and new life happens. Yes, the @TrinityBellwood cherry blossoms have started to bloom. We gently remind folks that flocking to both Trinity Bellwoods and High Park to see them would be a bad idea!… https://t.co/1TWv0I9OmZ
— TheTrinityBellwoodsFlea (@TriBellFlea) April 30, 2020
Bylaw officers ask a couple to leave Trinity Bellwoods Park after they are unable to prove they live together. Restrictions on using public spaces loosened last week, but proof of a shared address is still required to be within 2 metres of one another.
— Streets Of Toronto (@streetsofto) April 27, 2020
Click here to learn more about the Toronto park closures during the cherry blossom season.