By Sara Ross
Cleaning up Lake Simcoe. It’s the goal of many organizations and municipalities.
In the future, the beaches and marinas of Lake Simcoe may be able to join the 32,000 beaches and marinas across the globe that have blue flags flying above their waters signifying they are clean and maintained in a sustainable way.
To raise awareness of this campaign in Orillia, Environmental Defence staff and volunteers will be at the Orillia Waterfront Festival this weekend.
“It’s important because if we protect our beaches that has a direct benefit on the quality of our water,” said Jodi Frye, Blue Flag co-ordinator for Environmental Defence. “Beaches are hot spots during the summer, so it’s a great way to educate the public.”
There are 12 beaches in Ontario that have earned the right to fly a blue flag.
Frye said they haven’t yet had an application for beaches or marinas along lakes Simcoe or Couchiching.
“I’ve personally seen (Lake Simcoe) and I think it’s absolutely beautiful, and the beaches are great. I think it would be awesome if we could fly a blue flag on that lake and help further protect it,” Frye said.
Environmental Defence is also educating people through Campaign Lake Simcoe.
The Toronto-based watchdog believes that residents of Orillia, a boating and waterfront community, are a great audience to educate on the importance of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, which plans to restore the quality of the Lake Simcoe watershed.
“It’s better for everyone if there are more diversity of opinions to the government as (the act is) being shaped, so that the resulting legislation reflects what the people of the Lake Simcoe watershed really want,” said Claire Malcolmson, Campaign Lake Simcoe co-ordinator for Environmental Defence.
“We expect it to be passed by the end of 2008,” she said.
Becoming a blue flag certified beach involves meeting 24 criteria in the categories of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety and services.