Jonathon Jackson
Owen Sound Sun Times
Thursday, July 07, 2005
The blue water and blue skies at Sauble Beach may be joined by a Blue Flag as early as next spring.
Sauble Beach was presented Wednesday with a Blue Flag Candidate Certificate, meaning it’s been certified by Environmental Defence, a group which protects the environment and human health in Canada and also coordinates the Blue Flag program in this country.
“What it tells people is that the town is committed to protecting the beach’s eco-system and providing a high-quality recreational area,” said Sarah Winterton, the organization’s program director.
The certification also means South Bruce Peninsula can now apply for the Blue Flag, a process that must go through regional and international juries. If they approve, the Blue Flag will fly at Sauble Beach in 2006.
“It would be a feather in our hat,” said South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Carl Noble, adding a Blue Flag can be used in the municipality’s marketing efforts. “It’s something that is recognized worldwide.”
The Blue Flag program began in Europe in 1985 and has spread across the globe. Sauble Beach is only the fifth beach in Canada to be certified as a candidate, following four in Toronto that were certified just last week.
“The international quality of the flag is taking on truly global proportions,” Winterton said. “The (United Nations) considers it one of the most effective eco-certification programs going.”
To qualify for a Blue Flag, a beach must meet 27 specific criteria based on water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety and services.
The Blue Flag is awarded at the start of each swimming season and must be renewed annually. Beaches can lose their flags during the season if they don’t meet specific criteria.
The Friends of Sauble Beach don’t intend to see that happen. They’ve already spearheaded a number of improvements to the beach and will push ahead to make sure Sauble gets and keeps the banner.
“We’re very optimistic that we will receive the Blue Flag,” said Ken Frook, the organization’s director.
“We’re very proud to state, and public health would verify that, that Sauble Beach has the best quality of swimming water all along the Lake Huron shoreline.”
Environmental management and education are also important criteria, and the Friends are helping to take care of that by erecting signs directing people to certain access routes through the beach’s dunes rather than over them. In the fall they’ll erect boardwalks to further protect the dunes.
They also had a successful partnership this past year with a class at Amabel-Sauble Community School.
“We’re so proud of this Grade 3-4 classroom. They actually wrote a brochure after we did some field studies with them,” Frook said. “They did drama presentations, they did music presentations, they had a potluck supper where over 100 of us attended.
“What we really appreciated more than anything else was that the Town of South Bruce Peninsula had all of their councillors there, including the mayor. They have just been very, very supportive of all the work that’s going on here at Sauble.”
Sauble will also be a safe beach, thanks to the recent installation of 10 life-saving stations. That’s a program which Noble hopes can expand to other beaches in the municipality whether or not they qualify for the Blue Flag.