City extends hours for nine outdoor swimming pools.
Toronto officials say the city’s beaches are ready and waiting for hot and sticky residents trying to escape the heat.
But those same officials say they’re still trying to correct the misconception that Toronto’s beaches aren’t safe for swimming.
Sophie Laokan, who was relaxing at Woodbine Beach on Tuesday, wasn’t too keen to go in the water.
“I know that 10 or 20 years ago the lake was very polluted and they’re working to clean it up but I still wouldn’t swim there,” she said.
Nearby, George Lazarou, said he was a risk taker, so he was going for a swim. “I originally said, ‘No’ but my friend said, ‘It’s very clean.’ So I’m going to take the plunge.”
“I think it’s tragic,” said environmentalist Aidan Grove-White. “We have some of the best managed beaches here in Toronto. There was a time we couldn’t swim but now we have a world recognized agency that’s telling us it’s safe to swim,”
The agency Grove-White is referring to is the international Blue Flag Programme. Under it beaches need to meet 32 criteria in order to be permitted to fly the blue flag.
“It means that you are reaching for a level of quality and environmental management that is very high,” said Grove-White.
Since 2005 the number of Toronto beaches participating in the program has doubled
“Toronto has not only been doing very well but this year in particular most of the beaches at the western end of Lake Ontario have been open all year long,” said Mark Mattson, president of the charity Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
“Even though the province only requires the waters be tested once a week the city tests once a day for bacteria like E coli and the results are always posted online,” said Mattson.
Late Tuesday afternoon the city also announced it was going to keep nine outdoor pools open late to help people cool off.