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February 25, 2009
Toronto Beaches Plan sets out a vision for a great city with great beaches
Toronto City Council has endorsed a plan to improve and enhance the City’s 11 swimming beaches.

“Toronto’s swimming beaches are a key feature of our city’s waterfront,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller. “The Toronto Beaches Plan is about ensuring these assets are valued and protected, while striving to balance the needs of a variety of users.”

Council has approved an action plan for 2009-2010 that will mean immediate improvements to enhance conditions and water quality at all 11 beaches. The action plan also identifies a number of steps to target water quality at three City beaches (Sunnyside, Marie Curtis East and Rouge) with the poorest water quality. Staff will embark on a three-year pilot project to enclose part of the swimming area at Sunnyside Beach in order to provide acceptable recreational water quality. To deal with the poor water quality issues at Marie Curtis East Beach and Rouge Beach, staff will investigate the possibility of relocating each site.

The report considered by Council also presents a new strategy document called Great City, Great Beaches developed by Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Toronto Water and Toronto Public Health, working with the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Great City, Great Beaches sets out a long-term vision to get all Toronto swimming beaches to the international Blue Flag standard or better.

“I am very proud of the progress we are making in getting Toronto’s beaches to and beyond Blue Flag status,” said Mayor Miller. “The Blue Flag is an international symbol of quality that speaks to water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education.”

The Toronto Beaches Plan does not change the City’s policy in regard to its six designated Blue Flag beaches - Woodbine, Cherry, Ward’s Island, Centre Island, Gibraltar Point and Hanlan’s Point. As it stands, the Municipal Code does not permit dogs either on or off-leash on Blue Flag designated beaches; this has not changed. In regard to beaches that have not yet attained Blue Flag status, dogs on-leash are permitted, unless otherwise posted.

Council has requested staff to report back to the Parks and Environment Committee on the impacts of Blue Flag status on dogs on or off leash and to specifically look at how Blue Flag status will impact dogs on Kew-Balmy Beach. Staff will also look at the feasibility of establishing winter linkages between existing designated off-leash areas to address concerns about usage of Kew-Balmy Beach by dog owners and walkers, after it is designated a Blue Flag Beach, later this spring. In the meantime, dogs on-leash will be permitted on this beach.

The Eastern Beaches community is well served by three permanently designated off-leash areas, totaling 18.7 acres along the waterfront:
o Silverbirch provides 1.9 acres of designated off-leash area
o Kew Gardens off-leash area, situated between Kew-Balmy and Woodbine beaches, provides 5.9 acres of off-leash area
o Cherry Beach (west of the designated Blue Flag swimming beach) provides a designated off-leash area which is 10.9 acres.

Toronto became the first community in Canada to fly the Blue Flag. In addition to Kew-Balmy, the beach at Bluffer’s Park is close to meeting the required criteria and will likely achieve Blue Flag status in 2009/2010. This will bring the City’s total to eight Blue Flag designated beaches.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Media Hotline, 416-560-8726,



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