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Blue Flag raised at Sandbanks marks it as world-class beach

The Blue Flag was hoisted across from the Sandbanks park canteen by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Kathryn McGarry, Enivonmental Defence Program manager Brett Tryon, Sandbanks Park Superintendent Robin Reilly and Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff. Parks staff joined in for a photograph to mark the occasion.

Sandbanks Provincial Park has been awarded the international ‘Blue Flag’ designating it as a world-class beach – just the second provincial park in Ontario to be recognized.

Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, visited the beach Wednesday morning to help hoist the Blue Flag which honours its international standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education, safety and services.

“I often have the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful and spectacular examples of nature our province has to offer, including right here in Prince Edward County,” McGarry said. “This is a huge accomplishment. The Blue Flag signals visitors to Sandbanks Provincial Park are in for a world-class beach experience. It represents the highest designation a beach can receive for ecological integrity, safety and clean, high quality water.”

The 30-year-old Blue Flag program is administered in Canada by Environmental Defence and managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education. More than 4,000 beaches and marinas in 47 countries fly the Blue Flag.

PEC Mayor Robert Quaiff and MP Todd Smith welcomed Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, to Sandbanks Provincial Park, Wednesday.

Brett Tyron, Environmental Defence program manager, said she worked with Sandbanks superintendent Robin Reilly for about a year preparing the application.

“Millions of people around the world look for the Blue Flag when choosing a beach or marina to visit. And there’s a good reason for that,” said Tryon. “A Blue Flag means that a beach or marina is clean, sustainably managed, and meets high safety standards. It is truly a symbol of excellence.”

Reilly noted this was tough spring for the park with the high water on Lake Ontario and so much spring rain that he was thinking more about raising a white flag.

Robin Reilly, Sandbanks Park Superintendent.

“It seems to have warmed up, the waves are retreating and we are getting back to a beach as normal,” he said. “The Blue Flag speaks to the quality of the sand and the dunes but it also speaks to the operation quality, the education programs, barrier-free access, regular water testing and environmental programs. We always felt were were a world-class park and it is nice to be recognized under this international designation.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff said that while the County is renowned for its 800 kilometre shoreline, arguably the most spectacular stretch of the shoreline is at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

“The County is blessed to have this world-class beach right in our back yard. I think sometimes we take for granted this stunning environmental phenomenon,” he said. “The Blue Flag certification that we celebrate today reminds us that we enjoy something that sets us apart from the majority of communities across Canada. During the summer months, the beach refreshes thousands of people each and every day. Sandbanks also satisfies many people’s desire to re-connect with nature and the local ecosystem.”

The Sandbanks nourishes the local community, he noting adding he was recently corrected in thinking 600,000 people visit the park annually, where in fact 780,000 people visited Sandbanks last year.

“These people don’t just stay on the beach. They explore the County’s many regions, stopping along the way to enjoy locally-sourced food and drink and discover our vibrant, artistic community, and they keep coming back” said Quaiff. “I’d like to thank Robin Reilly and his staff for maintaining, enhancing and protecting this unique, natural wonder and also recognize the significant contributions of the Friends of Sandbanks Provincial Park who make it their work to support the staff.”

Sandbanks joins Wasaga Beach as Ontario’s second provincial park to receive the international eco-certification.

Water has receded somewhat, but is still high, at the Outlet Beach.

 

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