Bayfield may be a Blue Flag bearer as early as next summer.
The village’s main beach and marina have been assessed by a member organization of Blue Flag Canada, and have now entered the pilot phase of a process that may see the two sites receive Blue Flag status in 2009.
Blue Flag status has been awarded to over 3,200 beaches and marinas worldwide to sites that meet a variety of criteria for water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education and information.
The Bayfield marina is the first marina in Canada to apply for Blue Flag status, and has met the majority of 23 required criteria.
Six areas will have to be brought up to code in order for the facility’s Blue Flag application to proceed.
These include the development of an environmental policy plan; the introduction of segregated containers for the storage of hazardous wastes; the posting of safety precautions and information; and the development of environmentally-themed educational activities at the marina; and the display of a code of environmental conduct at the marina.
Information about a nearby environmentally-sensitive bluff ecosystem must also be posted, and a map indicating the location of different facilities at the marina must be provided there.
There are 27 criteria for beaches seeking Blue Flag status, and Bayfield’s main beach has met many of them.
Information about the bluff ecosystem must be posted, as well as a code of conduct for the beach area, and facilities for receiving recyclable waste must be provided.
Lifeguards or fully-equipped life-saving stations must also be provided at the beach, and educational environmental activities that raise awareness of issues that affect the beach and marina must be developed.
Water quality will also be monitored in 2008 to ensure that Blue Flag standards are met. At least 80 per cent of beach water tests during the swimming season yield 100 or fewer E. coli per 100 mL of water.
Bayfield’s main beach saw 89 per cent of its tests meet this standard in 2007, but only 61 per cent were met in 2006 and 71 per cent were met in 2005.
“The difference in the past three years may mean that 2006 was an extremely unusual year or a very wet season,” according to a report given to Municipality of Bluewater council last week.
“Similarly, in 2007, it was a relatively dry summer. According to many studies, water quality can be very dependent on weather. Therefore, it will be important to monitor the water quality during the 2008 season to ensure that no negative trends develop.”
Despite these concerns, Jodi Frye, who assessed the Bayfield sites for the Toronto environmental group Environmental Defence, was impressed with what she saw while visiting the Bayfield sites.
“I think they’re well ahead of the game,” she said last week. “It’s just a few things that they need to implement which are quite easily implemented.”
Municipality of Bluewater Council passed a resolution on Aug. 5 to address the areas of concern, making Bayfield an official Blue Flag candidate.
The sites now enter a pilot phase, which can last up to three years.
If the remaining criteria are satisfied, Bayfield’s application will progress to a regional jury, who can then forward the application to an international jury for final approval.