June 8, 2007
JOANNA LAVOIE
The Mirror – Beach Riverdale
The city’s 11 beaches are officially open for the 2007 swimming season.
On Wednesday morning, a small crowd congregated at Woodbine Beach to mark the occasion.
Ward 32 (Beaches-East York) Councillor Sandra Bussin, Michael D’Andrea, director of water infrastructure management for Toronto Water and Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defense, also rose a Blue Flag (an international symbol of clean beaches) at the event.
A total of nine beaches in Ontario have received the honour, six of which are in Toronto including Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Ward’s Island Beach, Centre Island Beach and Gibraltar Point Beach.
In order to receive Blue Flag certification, beaches must meet 27 strict water quality, environmental management and education as well as safety and services standards. Tested daily for water quality levels, Blue Flag beaches must also be open 80 per cent of the season.
Environmental Defense, the organization that administers the Blue Flag program in Canada, assesses beaches annually.
“This is a great way that the city is reconnecting with the waterfront,” said Smith, adding the city’s six Blue Flag certified-beaches means Toronto is also doing a good job maintaining good water quality.
He also said the certification should be considered a point of pride from the city whose beaches are at par with those in Barcelona, Spain, and Melbourne, Australia.
“Very few large cities in the world can boast a waterfront of this calibre. This waterfront is almost unique in the world for a metropolis of this size.”
Bussin added that Canada’s Blue Flag standards are actually greater than the international ones.
“Even the French Riviera has lower water quality. This is very exciting for us,” she said. “It’s everyone’s job to do their part (to keep Toronto’s beaches at such high standards).”
In its commitment to improve water quality at Toronto’s beaches, the city is also continuing to carry out a waterfowl and gull deterrent system, a public education campaign to stop people from feeding birds and to encourage them to properly dispose of food scraps, in-water and land debris clean ups, and beach grooming throughout the 2007 beach season.
More than 2,600 beaches in 36 countries have the Blue Flag certification.
For more information about Toronto’s beaches, visit www.torontobeach.ca, www.toronto.ca/beaches or call 416-392-7161