July 18, 2005

Four Toronto beaches awarded Blue Flag status

TORONTO, ONT-Four Toronto beaches have qualified to fly the Blue Flag, an international award for clean beaches. Environmental Defence, the Blue Flag co-ordinator in Canada recently presented city officials four Blue Flags for the Woodbine Beaches, Cherry Beach, Wards Island and Hanlan's Point. This makes Toronto the first municipality in Canada to receive Blue Flag designation for its beaches. To qualify to fly the Blue Flag, beaches must meet 27 specific criteria based on water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety and services. Water quality at Blue Flag beaches must meet Ontario's standards for recreational water quality (the most stringent in North America) at least 80% of the swimming season. Last year, Toronto's Blue Flag beaches were clean for swimming on average 94% of the season. Environmental Defence monitored Toronto's ten beaches over the past two swimming seasons to determine which beaches were eligible to receive the Blue Flag. The final candidates were reviewed and approved by two independent juries. Environmental Defence continues to monitor the city's compliance with the Blue Flag criteria, and posts water quality test results on its new Blue Flag Canada Web site, www.BlueFlag.ca. The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), based in Denmark, owns and operates the Blue Flag program. Launched in 1987, the initiative has grown to include more than 2,400 beaches in 33 countries.

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