High Park will be closed to vehicles starting at 7 a.m. tomorrow and re-opened once smoke from a prescribed burn has dissipated by early evening, Toronto officials said. Pedestrian access to the burn sites and some surrounding areas will be temporarily restricted, to ensure the safety of park users.
The prescribed burn in High Park is expected to take place at approximately 11:00 a.m. depending on weather conditions. Staff will be on site to ensure members of the public remain a safe distance from the burn area.
A prescribed burn is a deliberately set and carefully controlled fire that burns low to the ground and consumes dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems, but does not harm larger trees. The City has been safely executing prescribed burns in High Park for almost two decades.
Prior to European settlement, controlled burns were used by Indigenous people to manage and maintain fire-dependent ecosystems including the black oak savannahs in High Park. The City, in recognition of that history and in coordination with its Indigenous Affairs Office, is engaged in conversations with the Indigenous community about incorporating Indigenous knowledge and practices in High Park.
Prescribed burns are part of the City’s long-term management plan to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak woodlands and savannahs.
Under ideal weather conditions, the smoke from the prescribed burns lifts and does not affect surrounding neighbourhoods. It is possible, however, that some smoke will reach residential areas near the parks. People with asthma and those highly sensitive to poison ivy should limit their exposure to the smoke by staying inside and keeping windows closed. Some people may choose to leave the general area of the park on the day of the burn, if concerned about the smoke.
Detailed information about the prescribed burn and restrictions is available on the city website.