Distance required for Ottawa’s tulip fans this spring

Gord Holder  •  Postmedia Publishing

OTTAWA - April 14, 2020 - Out enjoying the spring flowers on Sunnyside Ave. in Ottawa Tuesday.  Tony Caldwell
Tulips on Sunnyside Ave. in Ottawa Tuesday. TONY CALDWELL / Postmedia

Tulips will bloom again in Ottawa in 2020, but fans may have to keep their distance from many significant sections of the annual springtime explosions of colour in the national capital region in addition to maintaining physical distance between each other.

The National Capital Commission says tulips planted last fall will bloom in its parks this spring, but, because of COVID-19 and the resulting closure of parks except for walk-throughs, the NCC “will not be providing the services it usually provides in its parks during the tulip bloom, such as portable toilets, food concessions, extra waste pick-ups, road closure during the weekends, first aid and site management.”

Additional signage will be posted to remind people of public health directives and the Ontario government’s order to close outdoor recreation amenities, except for park walk-throughs, an NCC statement said, adding that measures to control crowds or limit access “are under discussion, but no decisions have been made.”

The NCC recently closed its recreation amenities in Ottawa-Gatineau except for trails and multi-use pathways, plus some off-leash dog areas where dogs must now be on leashes. The commission bills itself as the “official gardener” of the national capital, responsible for designing tulip beds and planting nearly one million tulips in 120 flower beds in 30 different locations.

The Canadian Tulip Festival, which is separate from the NCC, announced in mid-March that all performances, programming and public participation in the 68th edition of the annual event scheduled for May 8-18 would be online-only. It also said celebration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Allied forces during the Second World War would continue on its website, social-media channels and a new YouTube channel.

“There will be no staff, tour guides, volunteers, facilities, attractions or concerts on-site at Commissioners Park/Dow’s Lake this year,” the festival announcement added.

Ottawa’s tulip tradition dates back to 1945, when the Dutch royal family gave 100,000 bulbs to Canada to show its thanks for safely sheltering some of its members during the war and for liberating its citizens from Nazi occupation.

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