Today, Mayor John Tory was joined by Councillors Brad Bradford (Beaches-East York) and Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, at Leuty Lifeguarding Station at Woodbine Beach for the official opening of Toronto’s swimming beaches and to launch this year’s beach and water safety campaign.
The City of Toronto’s supervised beach program begins today at 10 City beaches. Lifeguards will be on duty at these beaches and will supervise designated swim areas seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. This will be the first year with the new expanded hours – an extra hour in the morning and at night. The City’s beach water quality testing program, which includes daily water sample analysis by Toronto Public Health, and lifeguard supervision, will ensure people can swim safely at beaches.
The City has partnered with the Lifesaving Society of Canada on a comprehensive public education campaign about beach and water safety to help residents better understand safe beach practices. The campaign highlights the importance of swimming only in designated areas, supervising non-swimmers and children at all times and information about the flag system which helps swimmers understand the dangers of swimming in a lake. Signage and social media posts will be shared throughout swimming season, especially around long weekends, as part of this public education campaign.
While at City swimming beaches, the City asks all residents to remember:
Swim zone boundaries are marked at Toronto’s swimming beaches by red and yellow flags. Floating swim markers show the swim zone boundaries in the water. Swimming past or outside of these markers is not permitted. If there are no flags flying at a Toronto beach, lifeguards are not on duty and people should not swim. Stay within the clearly marked swim zones to avoid the dangers of being struck by vessels. Undesignated areas can have dangerous water conditions such as undertows and rip currents.
Lifeguards also fly large coloured flags at the City’s swimming beaches to notify the public of the water conditions. Green flags indicate low hazard conditions that are good for all swimmers. Yellow flags indicate moderate hazards are present including rough water, and/or strong off-shore winds and only strong, experienced swimmers should consider swimming. Red flags indicate high hazard conditions including extreme wave action and/or currents and/or E.coli counts over 100 Colony Forming Units (CFU) per 100mL and people should not swim.
Now that beaches are officially open, the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit reminds residents that all water crafts are restricted from designated swim areas along Toronto beaches. These areas are clearly marked and flagged using an internationally recognized system. Signs are also posted in the areas for designated craft launch areas. When spending time on the lake and/or beaches, residents should remember to always respect the water and all the potential dangers. Wearing a Life Jacket or Personal Flotation Device is the first defense in avoiding any tragedy related to water activities.
While visiting a beach or park, people must practice physical distancing and avoid crowding. Under the provincial guidelines, a social gathering or organized public event of more than five people is prohibited, unless everyone gathered together lives in the same household. If the beaches are full when people arrive, it’s recommended that people return at another time when the beach is less crowded.
More information on beach water quality testing is available on the Beach Water quality webpage.
More information about the City’s swimming beaches and beach safety is available at toronto.ca/beaches or by calling 311.
“We want all Torontonians to have fun and stay safe when swimming and enjoying other water activities. I want to remind all residents visiting our beautiful City beaches to only swim in designated areas with lifeguard supervision, to listen to our on-duty lifeguards and to stay within arm’s reach of children at all times.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The Lifesaving Society reminds Torontonians that the safest place to swim is in a lifeguard supervised area. Barbara Byers, Senior Research Officer with the Lifesaving Society says that residents should swim at the beautiful beaches in Toronto in the areas supervised by lifeguards and during the times that lifeguards are on duty. And if they see someone in trouble in the water, they should first alert the lifeguards versus going into the water to save them themselves.”
– Lifesaving Society of Canada
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