West Beach at Grand Beach Provincial Park has been designated under the Blue Flag Program by an international jury of experts, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“This shows that our staff are upholding beach management and operations to some of the highest standards in the world,” said Mackintosh.  “To have one of our great Manitoba beaches achieve this designation means it is one of the cleanest, safest beaches in the country and we will proudly fly the blue flag at the beach this summer.”

The Blue Flag Program, which is endorsed by the United Nations, is owned and operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark.  In Canada, Environmental Defence administers the Blue Flag program on behalf of FEE.

Under the program, beaches are reviewed on 33 criteria related to water quality, environmental education, environmental management, safety and services.  The standards ensure the beach is protected and that public use will not harm its ecosystem.

The designation requires approval by a regional Canadian jury made up of independent stakeholders and experts, then receives final approval from an international jury in Europe.

“This highly respected and internationally recognized eco-label symbolizes clean and well-managed beaches and marinas,” said St. Clements Mayor Steve Strang.  “The label of quality is something all Manitobans can be proud of.”

Beaches in 36 countries are certified under the Blue Flag program including 17 beaches and four marinas in Canada.

More information on the Blue Flag Program is available at www.blueflag.ca.  More information on Grand Beach can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/central/grand.html.

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