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Toronto declares Milkweed Day for butterflies

The City of Toronto has joined other cities across North America to help protect the endangered Monarch butterfly by signing the tri-national Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. The pledge, created by the National Wildlife Federation and supported in Canada by the David Suzuki Foundation, involves committing to actions that protect Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

“Toronto is proud to be the largest city to make the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge,” said Mayor John Tory. “Our ambitious Pollinator Protection Strategy, with a focus on habitat creation, includes 30 actions to support pollinators. Eight of those actions qualify Toronto for the National Wildlife Federation’s Monarch Leadership Circle.”

“Pollinators need food and places to nest and reproduce to thrive in our city, which is why creating habitat is so important,” said Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “Planting milkweed is an easy way to support Monarch butterflies.”

“We’re excited that Toronto has quietly fluttered to the forefront of the movement to bring iconic Monarch butterflies back from the brink of extinction,” said Jode Roberts, manager of the David Suzuki Foundation’s pollinator campaigns. “And, we are excited to work with the City to bring back the popular #Gotmilkweed campaign.”

Mayor Tory has officially proclaimed Sunday, May 27 as Milkweed Day in Toronto. To celebrate, residents are invited to Christie Pits Park to pick up milkweed plants, courtesy of the David Suzuki Foundation and the City’s Live Green Toronto program. Milkweed is the sole source of food for Monarch caterpillars. Residents can pick up a free milkweed plant, while supplies last, by signing up at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/gotmilkweed.

Since the David Suzuki Foundation launched the #Gotmilkweed campaign in 2014, more than 25,000 milkweed and pollinator-friendly wildflowers have been distributed for planting in Toronto yards, gardens, schools and parks.

Twenty years ago, more than one billion Monarch butterflies migrated from eastern Canada and the United States to spend their winters in alpine forests in central Mexico. By 2014, only 35 million Monarchs were left — a drop of more than 90 per cent.

More information about the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is available at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/butterflyway/mayors-monarch-pledge.

You can learn more about the City’s Pollinator Protection Strategy at https://bit.ly/2x6RhG4.

— Valerie Cassells