City adopts monarch-friendly initiative, declares Milkweed Day and brings back popular #Gotmilkweed campaign

TORONTO — This Sunday, hundreds of Torontonians will flock to Christie Pits Park to pick up milkweed plants being given away by the David Suzuki Foundation and LiveGreen Toronto. The giveaway follows the city’s adoption of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge and the return of DSF’s popular #Gotmilkweed campaign. To celebrate, Mayor John Tory will officially declare May 27 as Milkweed Day in Toronto.

Toronto’s city council unanimously adopted an ambitious Pollinator Protection Strategy earlier this month, which included signing the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Toronto trumped the City of Brooklyn, New York, to become the largest city in North America to officially make the pledge, which commits each community to taking action to help monarch butterflies.

“We’re excited that the City of 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 member of the city’s pollinator advisory panel.

Twenty years ago, more than one billion monarch butterflies migrated from eastern Canada and the U.S. 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. Despite an increase in the number of monarchs observed in the Greater Toronto Area last summer, the population dropped by 15 per cent over the winter, and their future remains in peril.

The David Suzuki Foundation has been working with the city to implement strategies to conserve monarchs, primarily by encouraging plantings of monarch-friendly native wildflowers, like local milkweed species that monarch depend on for survival. Since launching the #Gotmilkweed campaign in 2014, DSF has distributed more than 25,000 milkweed and pollinator-friendly wildflowers for Toronto yards, gardens, schools and parks.

“We are excited to partner with LiveGreen Toronto to bring back the popular #Gotmilkweed campaign,” Roberts said. “In four years, milkweed has gone from unwanted weed to the most in-demand native plant in Toronto — and we’re not done yet!”

Residents can join #Gotmilkweed and get a free milkweed plant by signing up (while supplies last) at

The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge was created by the National Wildlife Federation, a U.S.-based conservation group. The program has expanded to become a tri-national program, promoted in Canada by the David Suzuki Foundation. Through its Pollinator Protection Strategy, the City of Toronto has committed to taking at least eight actions over the next year and will officially join the NWF’s Monarch Leadership Circle.

More than 100 cities have committed to create monarch habitat and engage their residents in educational and conservation projects through the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Canadian signatories include Leamington, Markham, Montreal, Richmond Hill, Thunder Bay, York Region and more.

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Find out more about the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge.

Learn more about the City of Toronto’s Pollinator Protection Strategy.

For more information, please contact:

Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647-456-9752 @joderoberts