DEBRA BLACK
STAFF REPORTER
Toronto Star
Toronto’s city beaches officially opened for business today with some city councillors frolicking in the 16 degree Celsius waters off Cherry Beach alongside some lifeguards.
Their message was simple – Toronto’s 10 beaches are open for business and the city is launching some new initiatives to make sure water quality remains high, including better waste collection, algae harvesting, recycling and beach grooming programs as well as a pubic education campaign to help remind visitors to dispose of all food scraps and not feed the birds. Dropping from gulls and geese contribute to unsafe water conditions and high E. coli levels.
“The City of Toronto is committed to improving beach water quality and is devoting resources for further improvement,” said Councillor Shelley Carroll, chair of the city’s works committee.
“This is where the waterfront renaissance begins,” Carroll said as she and Councillor Paula Fletcher officially opened beach season on the lake.
Cherry Beach, along with Hanlan’s Point Beach, Ward’s Island Beach and Woodbine Beach, have all been given international recognition for their water quality – receiving the Blue Flag by an international non-government organization based in Denmark.
Environmental Defence, a Toronto based group, co-ordinates the program here and awarded the Blue Flags to the four beaches Thursday. There are 2400 blue flag beaches around the world, including beaches in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Africa. To be declared a Blue Flag beach water quality has to be consistently good and the beach’s eco-system has to be managed in an environmentally sustainable way.
“Awarding Blue Flags to four of the city’s beaches tells residents and visitors the city is working to improve beach weather quality and we look forward to awarding more Blue Flags to other beaches in the city,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
Many of the city’s beaches are closed each summer because of unsafe E. coli levels and the city collects water samples daily from all 10 supervised beaches to make sure swimming is safe. A gull deterrent program is being instituted at Centre Island Beach to help prevent high E. coli levels. At Bluffer’s Beach and Sunnyside Beach waterfowl and gulls will be also prevented from colonizing on the beach