Toronto Beaches

  • Background
  • Action plan
  • Dogs and beaches Q & A
  • Background
    Toronto is a great city on a Great Lake. Beaches are a key feature of Toronto's waterfront parks, which contribute significantly to the quality of life in the city. The Toronto Beaches Plan – “Great City, Great Beaches” sets out a vision and an action plan to further enhance water quality, maintenance and operations, facilities and amenities, programming, and education and communications – with the goal of getting all Toronto swimming beaches to and beyond the international Blue Flag standard.

    There are currently 11 designated swimming beaches situated along Toronto’s waterfront. Six of these beaches – Woodbine, Cherry, Ward’s Island, Centre Island, Gibraltar Point and Hanlan’s Point – have achieved Blue Flag status (an international standard which requires that a beach meet 27 criteria designated primarily on the basis of excellent water quality but also environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education). Two of the City’s beaches, Kew-Balmy and Bluffer’s Park, are close to meeting the required criteria and will likely achieve Blue Flag status in 2009/2010.

    Action Plan
    On Tuesday, February 24, 2009 Toronto City Council approved an action plan for 2009/2010 (a component of the Toronto Beaches Plan) that will mean immediate improvements to enhance conditions and water quality at all 11 beaches.

    The plan does not change the City's policy in regards to its Blue Flag beaches. According to the Municipal Code Chapter 608, Parks, dogs are not permitted either on- or off-leash at any time on Blue Flag beaches. However, dogs are permitted on-leash at the City's swimming beaches that have not yet attained Blue Flag status. Once Blue Flag status is attained at the other swimming beaches, dogs will not be permitted on- or off-leash at these locations. Currently dogs are permitted on leash at Kew-Balmy beach, which is expected to achieve Blue Flag status in spring 2009. Once that occurs, dogs will not be permitted on the beach.

    There are three permanently designated off-leash areas on the waterfront in the Eastern Beaches - Kew Gardens, Silverbirch and Cherry Beach where owners and walkers may run dogs off-leash. These areas are not within existing or planned Blue Flag areas and will remain in place on a permanent basis.

    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 the swimming area at each site.

    Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Toronto Water and Toronto Public Health developed the Toronto Beaches Plan, in collaboration with the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

    Successful implementation of the plan will be indicated by fewer days that beaches are posted unsafe for swimming, the awarding of additional Blue Flags, and higher levels of user satisfaction at swimming beaches.

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