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Lucas Liang talks about his experience with the cherry-blossom-seeking tourists in his neighbourhood. Photo: Chara

Vancouver cherry blossom season brings tourists and sometimes tensions

Residents urge tourists not to climb trees, make noise and break branches

By Chara Che and Xiaoyan Song , in City , on April 13, 2024 Tags: , , ,

With the arrival of spring, the cherry blossoms in Vancouver burst into bloom, but this beauty brings its own set of inconveniences for some locals.

“This neighbourhood is more on the quiet side, so to hear really loud voices inside my house is quite annoying,” said Lisa Mao, a resident living on one of the most popular cherry blossom blocks in South Vancouver.

Mao reports hearing people shout “Raise your hand higher!” or “Grab the flower!” throughout the entire day since early March, which the blooming began.

Noise is just one of the disrespectful behaviours that are affecting local residents.

“There are a lot of people taking photos in the middle of the street,” Mao said. “This makes it hard for cars to drive by and makes it unsafe for people taking photos.”

Some people even go as far as pulling petals and branches from the trees. 

She encouraged people to be more conscious of their surroundings and to manage their volume level “because a community is living here.”

She has lived in her neighbourhood for over seven years but said the disturbances didn’t start until last spring. 

cherry blossom chasers
Alan Yen and Fiona Cong visit Graveley Street and reach the cherry blossoms. Photo: Chara Che

Another resident, Ryan Tan, who lives on Graveley Street —— another popular neighbourhood with the cherry blossoms in East Vancouver —— attributes the increased attention to the street to social media’s rapid dissemination of information.

He said the inconvenience for him is the tourists “taking up the parking spaces on the road so that we could not park in front of our houses.”

Lucas Liang, another resident, has seen people stepping on his neighbours’ lawns to get good photos, and asked blossom chasers to be considerate of residents without fences to prevent trespassing onto their lawns.

“There are some houses on this block that aren’t gated, which is why people step on their lawn, so I feel like it could be annoying for them,” Liang said.

Linda Poole, the founder of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, said she had not heard many complaints regarding the residents’ concern but the worst she heard was that a man who once placed his canoe in the middle of the road during the time when the petals were falling, pretending he was paddling through cherry blossoms. It caused a traffic jam.

Cherry blossom admiration has a long history in Vancouver.

It can be traced back to early 1930s, where 500 cherry trees were planted in Stanley Park as a gift from Japan, to honour Japanese Canadians who served in World War I. With the rising public popularity, more trees have been planted in parks and neighbourhood by the Vancouver parks board.

As of now, there are 43,000 cherry trees that burst into bloom across the city every spring.

As the impact of cherry tree plantings began to reshape the city’s landscape, Vancouverites were soon fascinated by their fleeting beauty, their clouds of blossoms.

UBC students taking selfies under the cherry blossom tree on campus. Photo: Chara Che

Besides urging people not to stop in the middle of the street and to remain on city property without entering private properties, Poole also advises admirers to not climb the trees, pick the blossoms or cut off branches.

“We try to teach people that it is not the cherry blossom manners.”

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, founded in 2005, runs from March 29 until April 25 and features a wide range of engaging community events across the city, including performances from a variety of cultures, guided, cycling, tree talks and walks, and poetry contests, benefit approximately 175,000 participants.