You may see smoke and flames coming from your favourite west-end park this Thursday, April 13th. Why is there a fire at High Park, you ask? Don’t worry, it isn’t burning to the ground — it’s actually a sustainability initiative by the City of Toronto.

The fire you may see coming from the park is in fact a prescribed burn that the City has been safely executing in the park for over 20 years.

It’s described as 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.”

These burns are a long-held sacred practice used by Indigenous people, and the City of Toronto uses it to protect the rare black oak woodlands and savannahs in the city.

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In accordance with the Indigenous tradition, an opening ceremony and smudge will be held at the site prior to the burn ignition.

It will be led by Indigenous Elders Vivian Recollet and Henry Pitawanakwat.

No photography or video is allowed during the ceremony, but there will be drumming and dancing at High Park throughout the day, which can be filmed and photographed from a safe distance.

Unfortunately for those hoping to make a special trip to High Park to enjoy the record-breaking heat in Toronto this week, the park will actually be closed to vehicles as of 7 AM on Thursday.

It will be reopened in the early evening when the smoke has dissipated, and public access around the burn sites will be restricted.