Warmer weather means the start of cherry blossom season, with flowers starting to appear on Sakura trees in Toronto's High Park.
The blooms in the area draw in huge crowds, but the past two years have been different. COVID-19 and social distancing protocols make it impossible to gather at the park yet again this year, with officials urging the public to enjoy the blooms virtually.
Fences have been installed to deter spectators, and city enforcement and Toronto Police Service with be on-hand to prevent vehicle access to the site.
“While we recognize that experiencing the blossoming of the Sakura trees has become a rite of spring for many Torontonians, it is imperative that we protect the health care system and the broader community," Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
"Our public health officials have been clear that now is not the time for large groups of people to gather outside. At the same time, the City continues to provide local options for essential exercise and fresh air in its parks and green spaces."
Blooms are expected to peak in the bottom half of April and can be viewed via the park's 24-hour 4K ‘BloomCam’, with the initiative being called #BloomAtHome.
The length of the bloom, however, will be weather-dependent.
If conditions are cooler, windier, and rainy, it tends to shorten the blossom period, Steven Joniak, a local blossom enthusiast told The Weather Network.
The blossoms seem to tolerate temperatures around the 5-degree mark and up.
This will be the second year the BloomCam is being employed. Last year, 200,000 people tuned in to virtually take in the blossoms, Tory told reporters at a recent press conference.
This year, local pedestrians and cyclists will be permitted to use the park for fresh air -- unlike last year, when the area was completely closed off.
THE HISTORY OF THE BLOSSOMS
The Japanese ambassador to Canada presented 2,000 trees to Toronto on behalf of Tokyo in 1959, planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting many relocated Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War.
Many of those trees were planted in High Park.
Thumbnail image, file photo of cherry blossoms uploaded to The Weather Network by Ana Danesh.