The Canadian charity behind the country’s Blue Flag beach award system is trying to woo the Vancouver Park Board back to its program – saying that the additional expenses the city would incur for water tests would be just $30 per sample.
Blue Flag program manager Brett Tryon with Environmental Defence, a charity which administers the program, said the only additional costs the city would have to pick up would be a $1,000 annual participation fee, per beach, and five additional sampling tests at all awarded beaches — about $150 per beach — each summer to test for intestinal Enterococci, a bacteria Vancouver Coastal Health has chosen not to sample for as doctors “feel it doesn’t perform better than E. coli” tests.
The Park Board had voted to explore the program last year, but staff and commissioners were left with a sour taste earlier this month when they realized international Blue Flag standards were below local guidelines, and that there would be more costs.
Tryon said current VCH tests for E. coli would be accepted for the program. She acknowledged Blue Flag’s international guidelines are lower than Canadian regulations — that’s why Blue Flag’s Canadian regulations have been made stricter, she said.
“Internationally, all beaches have to pass what’s called a 95th percentile calculations, it looks at raw data for E. coli and enterococci for four years,” Tryon said.
“On top of that, in Canada, we require beaches to meet the federal guideline value at least 80% of the year.”
The additional provision would require that both international and standard Canadian guidelines are met to qualify in this country.
Tryon said she was “quite impressed” by the quality of Vancouver’s beaches when she visited.
“They’ll have lifeguards, clear rules in place in terms of no smoking, no dogs on the beach, and most of them have really great water quality from what I’ve seen,” she said.
However, even if Vancouver were to continue pursuing the program, the earliest date it could be home to B.C.’s first Blue Flag beach would be 2016, as applications have closed for this year.…