PORT STANLEY – Early indications are good that Port Stanley’s Main Beach will stay blue next year.
Blue Flag program coordinator Brett Tryon was in the Lake Erie community Thursday morning conducting an annual inspection to see if the beach is meeting its Blue Flag requirements.
Internationally-recognized, Blue Flag beaches and marinas meet strict water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety and service standards, and Port Stanley joins 21 other Canadian beaches and marinas with Blue Flag designations. In Canada, the program is run by Environmental Defence.
The control visit is an early indicator for Blue Flag staff to reference when communities make their annual applications for the status each winter. A bad visit, Tryon said, often means no Blue Flag the following summer.
But if Port Stanley maintains its current pace, the coordinator added they shouldn’t have a problem.
“They passed with flying colours,” Tryon said after the review, adding Port Stanley’s beaches didn’t deviate from the checklist on any points.
“I was really, really impressed. I think that’s probably my most impressive beach visit so far.”
Tryon, on the job since April, added a Blue Flag is something all beach communities should strive for as it means reassurance for visitors and locals alike.
“The Blue Flag is a symbol to the public,” she explained.
“It’s a symbol whether you live here or whether you’re visiting from another country….People from all around the world see the Blue Flag and they know what it means, that it’s a world-class beach.”
Central Elgin environmental and community services manager Timothy McKenna is the local point person on Blue Flag issues.
He told the Times-Journal the municipality doesn’t strive for a Blue Flag designation simply for the prestige.
“To be absolutely honest with you, we don’t see the Blue Flag as a standard for us to meet. We see it as recognition for the stewardship that we would already be doing,” he said.
“I’m often asked how much does maintaining the Blue Flag cost us. I don’t see that it costs us anything really. We would already have this level of guards; we would already have the environmental programs that we have; the dune protection.”
He added more investment in the beach area has improved the conditions over the years and said the quality is so good now residents would easily notice if began to get messy.
“I wouldn’t want to be the mayor if we started doing that,” he said with a laugh.
“People have an expectation when they come down here.”
The municipality raised the 2012 Blue Flag on Main Beach in June. It was the third year straight and Main Beach is the only beach along the north shores of Lake Erie so designated.