Extra attention in 2011 was spent on the education aspect of the criteria for Blue Flag achievement. And for that reason a number of youth were asked to take part in the flag hoisting ceremonies held in June. The Municipality of Bluewater is now working toward getting their accreditation for the third year as a Blue Flag beach and fourth year as a Blue Flag marina.
With beaches along the Huron shoreline either flying a Blue Flag in 2011 or working in the direction of getting accreditation, Blue Flag has become the program that many area beaches are striving to attain for their communities.
“Bayfield along with many other Huron County beach communities want to promote healthy and clean outdoor pursuits that allow locals and visitors peace of mind when visiting the area beaches and marinas,” said Tyler Hessel, councilor-at-large for the Municipality of Bluewater.
There has been a Blue Flag flying at Bayfield’s Main Beach in the Municipality of Bluewater for the last two years. This program makes sure safety devices are available and informs the public swimmers of any hazards in the water. The program also has an educational component that helps inform local residents, students and visitors to the region of the benefits of what a Blue Flag beach can offer.
Bluewater’s Blue Flag program involves many community groups including the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce. According to Hessel, these groups are of the belief that Blue Flag status helps as an economic driver for area tourism.
Environmental Defence is the coordinator of Blue Flag Canada. They work with beach and marina managers, their partners, and community stakeholders to achieve the international Blue Flag award. The Blue Flag International program is managed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a non-governmental, non-profit organization promoting sustainable development through environmental education.
The concept of the Blue Flag was born in France. In 1985, French coastal municipalities were awarded with the Blue Flag for complying with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.
Since 2001, many organizations and authorities outside Europe wishing for cooperation on spreading the Blue Flag Program have made applications to FEE.
With the expansion of the program, the criteria became more rigorous and unified. As of 2006 an international set of criteria is used with some variation within to reflect the specific environmental conditions of certain regions.
“The Blue Flag program as monitored by Environmental Defense of Canada has been an asset for the Municipality of Bluewater and Huron County,” said Hessel. “Through community initiatives and the hard work of the municipality and community support, Bluewater looks forward to getting their accreditation for their third year as a Blue Flag beach and fourth year for a Blue Flag marina.”