JOANNA LAVOIE

June 10, 2010

Seven of Toronto’s beaches have been awarded a prestigious international symbol for clean beaches, while an eighth is a candidate to receive the eco-label down the line.
Earlier this week, Environmental Defence – the organization that administers the program in Canada – announced Kew-Balmy, Woodbine, Cherry, Ward’s Island, Centre Island, Gibraltar Point and Hanlan’s Point have been designated as official Blue Flag beaches in Toronto.
Bluffer’s Park in Scarborough received a Blue Flag candidate status, meaning it could receive full certification in future summers.
Blue Flag designations meet 29 strict water quality, environmental management and education as well as safety and service standards to be awarded the international symbol of clean beaches. They must also have washroom facilities and conduct frequent garbage pickup as well as daily water quality tests. The beaches must also be open 80 per cent of the season.
Environmental Defence assesses the waterways annually.
“Behind each Blue Flag is a community of people who recognize the importance of protecting their beach and marina, for the benefit of people who enjoy it and for the environment,” said Sarah Winterton, Environmental Defence’s education and outreach director, in a release.
“We’re so pleased to award Blue Flags to these outstanding beaches and marinas.”
This summer, Port Stanley Main Beach on Lake Erie (Municipality of Central Elgin); Grand Bend Beach on Lake Huron (Municipality of Lambton Shores); Bayfield Main Beach on Lake Huron (Municipality of Bluewater); Station Beach on Lake Huron (Kincardine); Sauble Beach on Lake Huron (Town of South Bruce Peninsula); Little River Beach Park and Northwinds Beach Park on Georgian Bay (Town of the Blue Mountains); and Wasaga Beach Provincial Park on Georgian Bay have also received the designation.
Three marinas on Lake Huron: Bluewater Marina, Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina also received a Blue Flag.
The four other Blue Flag candidates are Professor’s Lake Park (Brampton); Canatara Park on Lake Huron (Sarnia); Rotary Cove Beach on Lake Huron (Goderich); and Gimli North Beach on Lake Winnipeg (Gimli, Man.).
Last summer, Environmental Defense suspended the designation at the same seven Toronto beaches shortly after the 39-day City of Toronto worker’s strike began because some of the key criteria to maintain the status were not being met. The flags were raised once again in early August a short time after the strike ended.
More than 3,400 beaches and marinas in 41 countries have the Blue Flag Certification.
For more information about the program, visit www.blueflag.ca