Two Lambton County marina will be among the first in North America to fly a coveted Blue Flag this summer after meeting strict international standards for environmental protection.
Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina in Lambton Shores earned the designation for their water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety.
As well, Grand Bend Beach became the first of Lambton County’s famed beaches to earn Blue Flag status.
“We are thrilled with the announcement. The Grand Bend Beach has really been a community effort,” said Lambton Shores mayor Gord Minielly.
In total, Blue Flags were awarded to three marinas and 11 North American beaches.
Canatara Park Beach earned candidate status, meaning it could receive full certification in the future.
The program, which began in Europe in 1987, is designed to increase good environmental practices among tourists, local populations and property managers.
There are currently 2,600 Blue Flag beaches in 36 countries.
Lambton Shores became the first municipality on the continent to have both of its harbours designated.
“These … marinas have worked really hard to meet the international standards and we’re proud that Canada has the first Blue Flag marinas in North America,” said Sarah Winterton, education and outreach director with Environmental Defence, which oversees the program in Canada.
“Beaches and marinas are really embracing the Blue Flag program because it shows they are leaders.”
Two years ago Lambton Shores developed an award-winning system that allows staff to monitor beach water conditions. The monitor is anchored offshore, and with the use of computer and solar-powered technology collects data on wave heights, temperature, turbidity and sunlight intensity.
The data collected is being used to create a model of water conditions at Grand Bend Beach to alert swimmers of negative conditions.