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8 Toronto beaches get Blue Flag designation

Those wary about dipping more than their toe into the water at Toronto beaches may be more willing to go for a swim after Environmental Defence gave several swimming spots the thumbs-up.

The group has designated eight Toronto beaches as Blue Flag spots, meaning the areas must meet high water quality and environmental standards. The local beaches include: Bluffer's Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Woodbine Beach, Cherry Beach, Ward's Island Beach, Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach and Hanlan's Point Beach.



"These awards are the result of the great work done by beach operators and countless community groups who recognize the importance of protecting their beach and marina," Sarah Winterton, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Environmental Defence, said. "Everyone involved in the Blue Flag program really deserves recognition for their efforts and we congratulate them all on their achievement."

Environmental Defence runs the Blue Flag program. There are dozens of criteria beaches must meet to earn the designation. Some of them include:

-There has to be an absence of floatables such as tarry residues, wood, plastic articles, bottles, containers, glass or any other substance.

-There must be no oil film visible on the surface of the water and no odour detected. On land the beach must be monitored for oil and emergency plans should include the required action to take in case of such pollution.

-There has to be an absence of floatables such as tarry residues, wood, plastic articles, bottles, containers, glass or any other substance.

-The beach must fully comply with water quality sampling and frequency guidelines.

There are also a number of requirements when it comes to educational opportunities offered, adequate number of lifeguards on duty, promotion of sustainable transportation to the beach and, water quality information must be displayed.

The eight Toronto swimming spots are among 3,650 Blue Flag beaches and marinas in 41 countries this summer, including Brazil, Jordan, New Zealand, Morocco and, in the Caribbean. Canadian beaches have been winning the designation since 2005.

Beaches must apply for the Blue Flag. Independent juries in Canada and around the world review applications. The designation can be removed if a beach slacks off on meeting the requirements.

Shawne McKeown, CityNews.ca

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