Laura Stone Staff Reporter
This summer, eight Toronto beaches will be flying the Blue Flag – and don’t worry, it has nothing to do with sharks.
It actually means they’re great places to swim.
The international Blue Flag label is awarded to beaches and marinas that meet high environmental standards, as determined by a group of environmental organizations worldwide under the Foundation for Environmental Education, based in Denmark.
The Blue Flag program was launched 25 years ago, and brought to Canada in 2005. It is operated here by environmental action organization Environmental Defence.
“Toronto has excellent beaches for swimming,” said Sarah Winterton, managing director at Environmental Defence.
“We’re, as an organization, able to confirm and verify and support the public health monitoring that goes on.”
For the second year in a row, the eight Toronto beaches that meet the flag’s four criteria for water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services are:
Bluffer’s Park Beach
Centre Island Beach
Gibraltar Point Beach
Hanlan’s Point Beach
Ward’s Island Beach
Some 14 beaches and three marinas in Ontario have been re-awarded Blue Flags, including Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.
“Our goal is to say we have great beaches, go down and go swimming,” said Winterton.
For the first time, beaches in Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia are receiving Blue Flags, and several are participating as candidates, including Canatara Park Beach in Sarnia and Harrison Hot Springs Beach in B.C., the organization said.
There are 3,098 Blue Flag beaches and 646 marinas in 46 countries.