Birch Cove Beach may get water quality award
Birch Cove Beach in Dartmouth may be on the verge of winning an award for water quality and environmental management, just weeks after it was shut down for contamination.
A Blue Flag is an international eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas that meet strict environmental criteria for water quality, maintenance, education, safety and services.
Earlier this summer, the beach was shut down for a short period after 30 people fell ill after visiting the beach. It was discovered that there was some fecal contamination, but now the water is clean.
Birch Cove has met most of the criteria to receive the award.
"Recycling, garbage disposal is there, washroom facilities. Is it accessible? Water quality parameters. So it hits some safety and environmental parameters," said Richard MacLellan, HRM's manager of environmental sustainability.
City hall staff say it'll take about $10,000 to improve the beach enough to satisfy the criteria.
"It seems to be a very inexpensive way to get an independent objective look at how our beaches are in terms of being safe and clean," said MacLellan.
Aside from a Blue Flag at the beach, visitors probably won't notice much of a difference.
The Waterfront Development Corporation is also applying for the same designation for the Halifax waterfront now that the harbour's sewage problems are under control.
The harbour will have to meet 24 criteria, which cover everything from water quality to educating the public about taking steps to protect coastlines.
"One thing you will see over time is some interesting, interpretive panelling along the waterfront that talks about the harbour, the eco-system, the Atlantic coast ... and it explains to the general public how they can help manage that," said Adam Langley, manager of property development and marine services for the corporation.
Two other Halifax beaches will soon be applying for the designation — Black Rock Beach at the entrance to the harbour and the Dingle Beach in Fleming Park.
There is hope the Halifax waterfront will be flying the Blue Flag in time for Tall Ships 2012.