High Park will be car-free during the cherry blossom peak bloom

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no vehicle access in high park May 4-13, 2019

On May 4, 2019 at 7 a.m. High Park was car-free to address pedestrian safety during the cherry blossom peak bloom. The ban ended on May 13, 2019. Only Wheel-Trans vehicles will be allowed into High Park during the closure period. …

Updated May 13, 2019 - The City of Toronto – Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division has now announced on their website that High Park has reopened vehicle access into the Park, allowing drivers to once again drive into and through the park. Visitors who walk or bike should take caution and note that they should stay on designated paths for their own personal safety from fast moving vehicles.

Updated May 1, 2019 - The City of Toronto – Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, has now updated their messaging for the 60th anniversary of the cherry blossoms in High Park and stating vehicles will not be allowed to park or drive through the park during the peak bloom beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Read the complete post at www.toronto.ca/cherryblossoms.

Some of you reading this may not like the changes. Please consider that during the bloom the entire neighbourhood is overwhelmed with hundreds of cars and thousands of people all trying to squeeze into High Park. There just is not enough space to accommodate so many visitors at once and keep it a safe experience for everyone to enjoy.

With these new changes, there will likely be many lessons learned for future cherry blossom blooms. I ask everyone to please understand and be considerate of the Park, and the neighbourhood as the only goal here is to make enjoying the sakura cherry blossoms be as safe and enjoyable for everyone. I have broken down the official statement to help explain how it may affect your visit - read below:

Why is this being done?

  • Every year tens of thousands of people visit High Park to take part in a rite of spring in Toronto: viewing the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees

  • The popularity of the High Park bloom has resulted in vehicle and parking congestion issues in and around the park, which has impeded access for emergency vehicles

  • Due to safety concerns, vehicle access to High Park will be prohibited during the peak bloom time period

  • The City of Toronto is also closing access in anticipation of high pedestrian volumes on and around roadways in the park

What do the changes mean?

The City is committed to providing a safe environment for all visitors to the park. Due to safety concerns from traffic congestion and heavy pedestrian presence in and around the park during peak bloom, all non-essential vehicles will be denied access to all areas of High Park during the peak bloom. This means you will not be allowed to drive into the park to any of the lots near Grenadier Café, Children’s Playground or High Park Zoo. Also keep in mind that parking on the surrounding streets will also be prohibited and be strictly enforced.

Ward 4 Councillor Gord Perks recently sent out a letter to High Park residents outlining the steps “to help minimize the impact of traffic and congestions in the area” and “ensure public safety in High Park”. He also went on to specify that “There will be a significant increase in the number of Parking Enforcement Unit officers (PEOs)” and that “they will be patrolling the streets around the Park.” Local residents in the past have complained of cars blocking driveways or double parking on streets and this year cars found illegally parked will be ticketed and even towed as necessary.

As we get closer to the peak bloom, more details will be released, and I will update everyone with any new information. Read the full letter on Gord Perks website here.

TTC, bike or walking are encouraged

Alternative modes of transportation are strongly encouraged - just like any other year. Crowds tend to always be very heavy during peak bloom, especially in the late afternoon, evenings and weekends. Making arrangements to visit during more slower times, such as mornings and mid-day will allow you to enjoy the cherry blossoms under less crowded conditions.

Cyclists and bicycles will be allowed, however they will be encourage to dismount and walk their bikes through the park. Please do not attempt to ride your bike through the heavy crowds as that will post a safety concern to both to visitors and yourself.

Taking the TTC is also an extremely good option as the Park in located with a number of transit access points from all sides. Short walks from High Park, Keele and even Runnymede subway stations make it easy to get into the park. See my Map & Directions page for a more detailed view of where to see the trees and best TTC routes to take.

Accessible and Special Needs

TTC Wheel-Trans will be the only vehicles allowed to enter the park and will be escorted to a parking location. All other vehicles will not be permitted to enter the park during the closure period.

You can learn more about this TTC Wheel-Trans service by visiting the website (link). For more information, please contact traveltraining@ttc.ca or call 416-393-4111. Online booking is also available! Go to mywheel-trans.ttc.ca to book online or call the RideLine at 416-397-8000 to book your rides.

High Park Trackless Train will be operating and has 9 stops around the Park, with at least 1 stop near a major entrance to the park. Visit the Maps & Directions page to see each stop location in High Park.

Visitors will be able to purchase tickets to ride the train as an alternative to walking the longer distances to each cherry blossom location. Learn more about the service at highparktrains.com

  • Train service begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs until dusk

  • Tickets for Adults (ages 12-65): $5.00

  • Tickets for Children & Older Adults: $4.00

  • Tickets are purchased from the conductor of the train at the time of your visit.

There will be no exceptions for vehicles with accessibility signage or other disability designations - you will not be allowed to drive into the Park.

How long will the car-free dates last?

The start date has been announced for May 4, 2019 at 7 a.m. and will continue throughout the duration the cherry blossom bloom period. The City will announce when High Park will re-open to vehicles once the peak bloom is over, and I will post that as soon as I confirm.