Harrison moving forward in Blue Flag program

Village could be first with clean beach approval

The Village of Harrison will be moving ahead with steps to become B.C.’s first Blue Flag International community. Council voted unanimously to become candidates for the program, which requires a strict set of criteria be met before a community is listed.

There are currently no other communities in the province that meet the criteria, but 3,012 beaches and 638 marinas around the world have joined in the voluntary program.

Sixteen Canadian beaches are listed, and three marinas, all in Ontario.

A group of Blue Flag officials were in Harrison recently to conduct a feasibility study, and that information was studied by council Monday night before they made their decision.

“There are a few things we are going to be working on now, until the Blue Flag people come back,” Mayor Ken Becotte told the Observer Tuesday.

“It’s a progressive thing, and some things we are going to be able to deal with more immediately than others.”

There are a number of criteria required that Harrison is not yet meeting, such as not having recycling receptacles on the beach, and not promoting and offering environmental education activities to beach users. The study offers suggestions in how to meet the criteria.

Becotte said it is now up to Village staff to determine which steps would be taken first.

“We haven’t got to that stage yet,” he said.

A report to council from Community and Economic Development Officer Andre Isakov states that the Blue Flag program is hoping to have a regional informational meeting in Harrison later in November, “to showcase the community s the first Blue Flag candidate community in B.C. and to share best practices among beach communities.

Now that the Village is an official candidate, Harrison Hot Springs is allowed to start marketing itself  as a candidate.

To read the study, download the council package at www.harrisonhotsprings.ca.

The concept of the Blue Flag was born in France. In 1985, French coastal municipalities were awarded with the Blue Flag for complying with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.To read more about the history behind the program, visit www.blueflag.org.

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