Dear Mayor Miller,
We are writing to express our grave concerns about the City of toronto's failure to protect its waterfront.
In 2005, the City of Toronto merged a number of its beaches, effectively reducing the number of sampled public beaches in the city to 10. This merger marks a disturbing trend. In 2004, the City of Toronto had 14 beaches. In 1999, the City of Toronto had 19 official beaches. In six years, the City of Toronto has cutback protection of nearly half of our waterfront beaches.
Some of the beaches that have been merged, for example Sir Casmir Gzowski and Sunnyside, do not have identical water quality records. In 2004, E. coli levels at Sir Casmir Gzowski beach were as much as five times higher than E. coli levels at neighbouring Sunnyside beach.
In 2005, the merger will force the City of Toronto to choose between closing clean waters to the public and leaving open contaminated areas. Either way, the public loses.
In the face of near-record high numbers of beach closures in 2004, the City of Toronto appears to be cultivating a culture of denial around our waterfront:
? Rather than strive to meet the official provincial water quality objectives, the City adopted less-protective international targets.
? Rather than make much-needed investments in infrastructure to protect beaches, the City launched an intensive media campaign that puts a light-hearted gloss on our beach woes.
? Rather than improve the City?s Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan, the City merely renamed it the more euphemistic ?Water Pollution Solution.?
The City of Toronto has utterly failed to respect the laws, policies, and goals of water quality protection in Ontario.
These rules are in place to protect both humans and aquatic life from the very serious impacts of sewage pollution. E. coli is the primary indicator of a sewage-polluted beach, but it is not the only contaminant of concern. E. coli is accompanied by chemicals, viruses, and pharmaceuticals ? none of which the people of Toronto want on our beaches or in our drinking water supply.
As of this writing, Scarborough?s Bluffer?s Beach and Rouge Beach have already been closed so frequently in 2005 that they will not meet the provincial standard of a ?safe beach? this summer. Marie Curtis Park is next in line.
Because of City of Toronto policy, Torontonians went from 14 beaches to 10 on June 1, 2005. Because of City of Toronto sewage, Torontonians have only 7 beaches left this summer.
We understand that the City is taking a variety of measures to study beach closures, but we felt it very important to draw to your attention that not one of the City?s plans mandates compliance with provincial water quality standards. This approach to waterfront protection will not win back toronto's lost beaches.
Thank you for your ongoing support for waterfront issues.
President & Waterkeeper