Toronto is gearing up for beach season. On Saturday, June 4, all beaches were declared open, except Marie Curtis Beach and Rouge Beach, which will open on Saturday, June 18. All beaches will remain open until Labour Day.
Blue Flags fly across the world, marking beaches that meet the highest criteria for excellence. The Blue Flag program is a highly respected and internationally recognized eco-label for swimming beaches. Environmental Defence, a non-profit organization, operates the program in Canada and is responsible for monitoring 33 criteria for beaches, including water quality, environmental management and education, safety and services.
The Blue Flag beaches are:
Hanlan’s Point Beach
Gibraltar Point Beach
Centre Island Beach
Ward’s Island Beach
Kew Balmy Beach
Bluffer’s Beach Park
“You don’t need to get on a plane to visit a great beach. Toronto has eight of them across the city,” said Councillor Michelle Holland (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “So get out this summer and enjoy them. Beaches provide free recreation, relaxation, and a way to cool down during the warmer months.”
“Twelve years ago, Toronto was the first community to raise the Blue Flag in Canada, and it has been awarded the Blue Flag every year since,” said Ashley Wallis, Blue Flag Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “When you see a Blue Flag flying, you know a beach or marina is clean and accessible, has great water quality, meets high safety standards and is working hard to protect local shorelines and ecosystems. Toronto has consistently demonstrated strong leadership in sustainable beach management.”
City staff take daily water samples to test conditions at all 11 swimming beaches every day from June through to Labour Day. These samples are analyzed to ensure Toronto’s beaches meet the highest water quality standards in the country. When water tests show E. coli levels exceed the provincial guidelines, Toronto Public Health warns against swimming at the affected beach and signs are posted.
The City’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division operates and maintains all recreation-related beach facilities and amenities. This service includes regular beach grooming and care of washrooms and change rooms. The Toronto Police Marine Unit provides lifeguard services.
Remember the following water safety tips when enjoying outdoor activities this summer:
• Keep your children within arm’s reach at all times
• Swim at a beach with a lifeguard and always swim with a friend
• If you are a non-swimmer, enrol in a swim class
• Avoid swimming immediately after a heavy rainfall when the water is likely to have high levels of bacteria
• Check the Toronto Public Health Swim Safe website for daily updates on beach water quality: http://www.toronto.ca/health/
• When out in the sun, wear a hat and sunscreen, and drink lots of water. – CINEWS