Toronto’s beaches now open to swimmers

Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth) officially announced the start of the 2009 beach season today at Centre Island Beach, one of Toronto’s seven swimming beaches to achieve international Blue Flag certification for quality.

Paula takes a swim in the Lake

Toronto Water has begun daily water testing at Toronto’s 11 swimming beaches, and Toronto Police Marine Unit lifeguards are now supervising Toronto’s most popular swimming beaches.

“Toronto’s beaches provide free recreation, relaxation, and a way to cool down during the warmer months,” said Councillor Fletcher. “Toronto is a true leader when it comes to making urban beaches swimmable. We are constantly improving the quality of our lake water and beaches, and the results are paying off.”

The Blue Flag program is a highly respected and internationally recognized eco-label for swimming beaches. Environmental Defence operates the program in Canada and is responsible for monitoring 27 factors including water quality, environmental management and education, safety and services. Blue Flags fly across the world, marking beaches that meet the highest criteria for excellence. “With a brand new award at Kew-Balmy, I am delighted to present seven Blue Flags to the City of Toronto – one more than last year,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “The Blue Flags prove the City is working to improve beach water quality, and we look forward to awarding even more Blue Flags as the City continues to implement new initiatives.”

Toronto Water takes 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 of 100 E. coli per 100 ml of water, Toronto Public Health warns against swimming at the affected beach and signs are posted. Daily water quality information is also available at www.toronto.ca/beach.

The City’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division operates and maintains all recreation-related beach facilities and amenities. This service includes regular beach grooming, care of washrooms and change rooms, and using border collies to herd gulls and geese away from swimming areas.

June is Recreation and Parks Month. Participation in parks and recreation activities builds healthy communities and enhances quality of life for all Toronto residents. To find out more, visit www.toronto.ca/parks.