Blue Flag isn't just about beaches - the program certifies marinas that are sustainably managed, and there are 646 Blue Flag marinas around the world. To be awarded a Blue Flag, a marina must meet 24 criteria for environmental education, water quality, environmental management, and safety and services. Examples include having a recycling program, toilet pumping facilities and proper handling of hazardous wastes.
Canada's newest Blue Flag marina is the Halifax Waterfront, and this Wednesday the flag was raised there for the first time. Halifax is the first city in Atlantic Canada to recieve the Blue Flag, a designation that the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation has been working hard towards. Their state of the art recycling program uses solar powered waste compactors; when the bins are full, an email is automatically sent to staff, a system that has reduced garbage collection frequency by up to 80 per cent.
Colin McLean, president and CEO of the Waterfront Development Corp., was there to raise the flag. "Our responsibility is the push the boundaries of best practices when it comes to sustainable development and to be on the leading edge of those best practices," he said.
Visiting from South Africa was Malcolm Powell, executive board member of the Foundation For Environmental Education, the international body which founded Blue Flag in 1987. "It is an honour to award the Halifax waterfront with the international Blue Flag," he said, "We are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the international Blue Flag program this year, and we are delighted to raise the first Blue Flag in Nova Scotia here today."
Leonard Preyra, Minister of Commutities, Culture and Heritage, was also there to celebrate. "This recognition as the first Blue Flag recipient in Nova Scotia showcases our province's commitment to sustainability for those who live here and those who come front around the world," he said.
The flag raising took place at the beginning of the Tall Ships Nova Scotia festival, just as the tall ships were starting to sail into the harbour. The festival is part of the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic, a partner of Blue Flag. The USS Providence, one of the ships that takes part in the Tall Ships race, is certified Blue Flag.
But you don't have to own a marina or sail a tall ship to fly a Blue Flag. Any individual boat owner can recieve the award by swearing an oath to be an environmentally responsible boater. So next time you are about to set sail, chart your course toward a clean environment by flying your own Blue Flag.