From building castles in the sand and splashing in the water to watching a magnificent sunset, beaches are places where summer memories are made.
For many Canadian families, their summer plans include at least one visit to a beach. But how do you know if you’re taking your family to a beach that is clean, safe, and sustainably managed? Just look for the Blue Flag.
What Is A Blue Flag Beach?
The Blue Flag is a world-renowned eco-certification for beaches and marinas that meet a set of strict international criteria under four categories: Environmental Education, Environmental Management, Water Quality, and Safety & Services.
In Canada, 26 beaches and seven marinas proudly fly the flag, and there are more than 4,000 Blue Flags flying in 49 countries around the world. It’s a symbol trusted by millions.
Where To Find Blue Flag Beaches
Some of Canada’s best-known beaches are Blue Flag certified. Port Stanley, Grand Bend, and Bayfield Beach in Ontario, and Grand Beach in Manitoba all received the designation this year.
When a Blue Flag is flying, tourists and residents are assured that a beach is an excellent spot for swimming.
Blue Flag beaches must meet provincial water quality standards 80 percent of the swimming season in order to get the flag, and their most recent water quality results are posted on blueflag.ca. Blue Flag beaches are required to have lifeguards or lifesaving equipment on-site, and must be accessible for everyone.
Environmental education is also a key part of Blue Flag.
Visitors are encouraged to connect with the natural environment – splash in the water, play with the sand, learn about the local birds, plants, and underwater creatures, and take actions to support the long-term health of the shoreline.
Blue Flag beaches also work to ensure that Canada’s shorelines are protected for generations to come, through various environmental management initiatives. For example, many Blue Flag beaches have successfully restored dune ecosystems, which stabilize the shoreline and provide important coastal habitat.
Blue Flag beaches are home to several species at risk, including the endangered Piping Plover. In Ontario, this small shorebird can be found nesting at Blue Flag certified Wasaga Beach. Birders come from all over the province to catch a glimpse of this rare and adorable species.
You know it will be well maintained, managed responsibly, and a great spot to spend some quality time with your family.
Written by Ashley Wallis, Blue Flag Program Manager