Saturday, August 9, 2008

Free Toronto Beaches

The city runs a total of 11 supervised beaches including Hanlan’s Point Beach, Centre Island Beach, Ward’s Island Beach, Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beaches, Gibraltar Point Beach, Marie Curtis Park East Beach, Sunnyside Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Bluffer’s Beach and Rouge Beach.
This year, six of the city beaches – Ward’s Island, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Woodbine Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Cherry Beach and Centre Island Beach – received the internationally-recognized Blue Flag designation because of their high standards in water quality, cleanliness, safety, and services.

During the summer, the Toronto Public Health goes to great lengths to ensure its beaches are safe and clean for swimmers. Water quality is tested daily and lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. If the water quality is not acceptable for swimming, Toronto Public Health will post signs warning against swimming.

People with mobility limitations can even borrow one of two free beach wheelchairs and take a spin (with the help of a buddy) along Woodbine, Ashbridges Bay or Kew-Balmy beaches. New this summer, the program is currently run through the Donald D. Summerville pool at Woodbine Beach. Call 416-392-7688 if you have any questions or if you’d like to reserve one of the unique balloon-wheeled chairs.

There are also several outdoor pools, splash pads and wading pools for residents to enjoy.Lakeside, there’s the Donald D. Summerville Pool at Woodbine and Lake Shore Boulevard East in the Beach as well as the Sunnyside-Gus Ryder pool at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Parkside Drive. In Etobicoke, residents can enjoy the Amos Waites pool at 2445 Lake Shore Blvd. W. and the Rotary pool at 25 Eleventh St.

The city also operates 64 unsupervised splash pads across Toronto from May 31 to September 21.Over 100 wading pools are also open across Toronto from June 26 to August 31.
For more information, call the city’s pool hotline at 416-338-POOL (7665).

To the east, there’s the 474-acre Bluffer’s Park at the foot of Brimley Road. This free, family-friendly venue is a popular spot for barbecues and picnics. It features a beach, restaurants, a boat launch area and a marina as well as various scenic outlook points.

The Port Union Waterfront Park, at the eastern-most end of Scarborough, is the newest addition to the city’s waterfront park system. This lakeside green space offers scenic views, natural green spaces and play areas for children.

Highland Creek, located at the western end of Port Union Waterfront Park, is a great place to enjoy free, self-guided hikes.

Guildwood Park, found atop the Scarborough Bluffs, encompasses several historic buildings including the Guild Inn. There are also more than 70 architectural fragments and sculptures within the park’s formal gardens.

The Leslie Street Spit, or Tommy Thompson Park as it’s officially named, is another unique and free-of-charge waterfront site to enjoy. Located at the foot of Leslie Street in the port lands, the five-kilometre long man-man peninsula is home to hundreds of bird species. The Spit is open to the public on weekends.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park, at Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Kipling Avenue, is one of Etobicoke’s best kept waterfront secrets. With spacious grounds and lakeside trails, the 195-acre park is a perfect place to spend the day with family and friends.

Humber Bay Park, near Lake Shore Boulevard West and Parkside Avenue, offers wildflower meadows, wetlands and a warm-water fish habitat. There’s also a boat launch, a fishing pier and scenic vantage points.

A stroll through the beautifully restored Distillery Historic District is always an interesting and free way to spend a few hours. Located near Lake Shore Blvd. E. and Parliament Street, the 13-acre site was once home to the circa 1832 Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Today, it’s home to unique cafes, restaurants, art galleries, performing arts venues, artist studios and boutiques.
Harbourfront Centre at Queens Quay and York Street is another venue that offers a whole host of free concerts and events during the summer months.

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