Toronto Will Be Burning Parts Of High Park On Purpose & Here's Why

They're calling it a "prescribed burn."

Editorial Assistant
Smoking trees in a neighbourhood.

Smoking trees in a neighbourhood.

High Park is home to some of Toronto's iconic cherry blossom trees, which people flock to during the spring months.

But soon, visitors will be in for a smoky surprise (and it won't be from someone's BBQ).

"The City of Toronto is preparing for a #PrescribedBurn in #HighPark this spring 2022. The burn can produce short periods of smoke and reduced visibility in the neighbourhood. Please keep windows closed during the burn if near High Park," the City tweeted on April 16.

According to the City's website, High Park is home to a black oak savannah, a "globally rare and threatened ecosystem."

"Prescribed burns are part of Urban Forestry’s long-term management plan to restore and protect Toronto’s rare Black Oak woodlands and savannahs," the City said.

The City said the park will be closed to vehicles starting at 7 a.m. on the day of the burn, which is typically completed by early evening. The "burn sites" are:

  • Two sites south of the Forestry School with one opposite the Sports Complex
  • North of Grenadier Restaurant and south of the Sports Complex
  • South of the Parkside Drive entrance, situated between Parkside Drive and Howard Park Avenue on the east side of the park

Map of High Park burn sites.Map of High Park burn sites.City of Toronto

"Access to burn sites and surrounding areas may also be temporarily restricted to ensure the safety of park users," the City said.

What is a "prescribed burn"?

According to the City's website, a prescribed burn is a controlled and planned fire that burns small twigs, dried leaves and grass stems. It happens low on the ground, and they said it won't harm bigger trees.

The City also noted that in "ideal conditions" the smoke should dissipate, but it would depend on the weather. It may also affect residential areas close to the park.

Indigenous people have used controlled burns to help manage the landscape in the past, according to the City.

"Prescribed Burns are designed to echo these historic controlled and natural fires and benefit native plants and animals by reducing invasive/exotic plants and grass, stimulating native plant regeneration, restoring wildlife habitat and returning nutrients to the soil," the City said.

Narcity is currently waiting for comment from the City's Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division and we will update the article as soon as we hear back.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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