, Swim Guide Editor
Posted: May 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Swim Drink Fish is proud to announce we now operate Blue Flag Canada. Blue Flag is a world-renowned certification program for eco-friendly beaches, boats, and marinas. With this exciting news, Swim Drink Fish joins the Blue Flag International network of 47 National Operators.

Beachgoers around the world recognize the iconic Blue Flag. And Blue Flag beaches are some of the most popular on Swim Guide. A Blue Flag tells you a beach is managed sustainably, is accessible, and has high-quality services and safety procedures including recreational water quality monitoring programs.

Water Quality at Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag Canada challenges local monitoring authorities and public health units to meet and exceed strict recreational water quality guidelines. Meeting Blue Flag water quality guidelines means the water is swimmable most of the time. “Swimmable” means it meets the standards established to protect public health from recreational water illnesses. It also includes activities like paddling, surfing, and wading into the water. Blue Flag beaches must meet water quality guidelines the majority of the time (more than 80% of the time) during the beach season.

When the water is known for being swimmable, like it is at Blue Flag beaches, people are much more likely to spend the day at the beach and to visit local shops and restaurants while they are there. When the water is not swimmable very often, people start to forget the beach and its community and they grow disconnected from the water.

When we promote accessible, clean places to swim we help to strengthen local communities. Blue Flag beaches draw in visitors. Because of this drawing power, Blue Flag beaches are important for the local community economy. On average visitors to beaches on the Great Lakes spend an average of $42–$56 per day during their trip¹.

A single Blue Flag beach in an average-sized community can attract more than $2-million in revenue to its neighbourhood each year.

Wasaga Beach, a Blue Flag beach in Ontario, Canada. Wasaga Beach is the world’s longest freshwater beach (14 km). Photo by Oliver Mallich.

Swim Drink Fish’s Role

As the Canadian National Operator, Swim Drink Fish will advise beach and marina operators on achieving and maintaining Blue Flag certification. Blue Flag beaches meet 33 criteria across four categories and must actively monitor water quality. Blue Flag marinas meet 38 criteria across six categories.

We took this role over from Environmental Defence in 2020 to help grow the Blue Flag program in Canada and connect Canadian beach managers with the rest of the world.

For nearly a decade we have been working to highlight the powerful relationship people have with beaches. A day at the beach can turn someone into an environmental guardian for life, if they have the right tools and the right community to support them.

We created Swim Guide to help people connect with a beach near them. Any beach at all will do for most people on most days, and Swim Guide has always proudly advocated for the right to swim in clean water in every community and the right to access data about water quality.

We are thrilled to add the Blue Flag certification program to the Swim Drink Fish family so we can help celebrate and reward communities that invest in beach restoration and protection. The recipients of Blue Flags work hard to be amongst Canada’s best waterfront destinations. When you visit, look for the Blue Flag information board to learn about the amazing features of each beach.

Since Swim Guide’s launch in 2011, we’ve worked with hundreds of local communities to help share water quality data. We look forward to encouraging more communities to celebrate and protect their beaches through Blue Flag Canada certification.

Blue Flag certification will encourage more communities to restore swimmable water. This will give you more places to swim, paddle, and sail. That also means an increase in environmental education and awareness activities across the country, and a growing number of people with a personal connection to water. This is how Blue Flag beaches and marinas help build the next generation of water leaders in Canada.

Like Swim Guide, Blue Flag helps connect you to your local waterways wherever you are. Blue Flag beaches can be found in many of the countries where our Swim Guide affiliates are active. This includes Ireland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, The Bahamas, Canada, and Mexico.

2019 Blue Flag Canada beaches:

Aboiteau Beach, Cap-Pelé, New Brunswick
Bayfield Main Beach, Bluewater, Ontario
Bell Park Beach, Sudbury, Ontario
Bluffer’s Park Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Canatara Park Beach, Sarnia, Ontario
Centre Island Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Cherry Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Gibraltar Point Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Grand Bend Beach, Municipality of Lambton Shores, Ontario
Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Kew-Balmy Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Moonlight Beach, Sudbury, Ontario
Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Parlee Beach Provincial Park, Shediac, New Brunswick
Plage de l’Est, Magog, Quebec
Plage de l’Ouest, Magog, Quebec
Plage des Cantons, Magog, Quebec
Port Burwell East Beach, Port Burwell, Ontario
Port Glasgow Beach, Municipality of West Elgin, Ontario
Port Stanley Main Beach, Port Stanley, Ontario
Victoria Beach, Cobourg, Ontario
Ward’s Island Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Wasaga Beach Areas 1 & 2 and Wasaga Beach Area 5, Wasaga, Ontario
Waubuno Beach, Perry Sound, Ontario
West Grand Beach, Grand Beach Provincial Park, Grand Beach, Manitoba
Woodbine Beach, Toronto, Ontario

To learn more about Blue Flag Canada, visit

To learn more about applying for Blue Flag certification, visit

You can find a list of all Blue Flag Canada criteria here. Please contact us to discuss further.

Swim Drink Fish took over Blue Flag Canada from Environmental Defence in early 2020. Swim Drink Fish awards Blue Flags in Canada on behalf of the Blue Flag International Jury and the Foundation for Environmental Education.

¹Dodds, R. (2010). Determining the Economic Impact of Beaches- Lake Huron Shoreline from Sarnia to Tobermory. Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

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