‘They close, they open’
Beach closure pattern same old story for Halifax
There have been eight beach closures in the municipality since the season began on June 30, but the city says that’s just business as usual.
“We saw the same sort of pattern last year,” said city spokesperson Jennifer Stairs on Thursday.
The same day the season started, the Dingle Beach closed. It reopened on July 3. And then it closed again on Thursday, due to bacteria levels in the water.
“The beaches – they close, they open,” said Stairs.
“It’s not unusual throughout the summer months, and that’s why we test regularly.”
That testing is done weekly looking at the level of bacteria in the water. Stairs says there are often higher levels after a lot of rainfall, and sometimes it’s due to waterfowl and other animals on the beaches.
Last year, there were nine beach closures in the munici- pality, and the year before there were 18.
There are 23 city owned and operated beaches, and that testing is done at all of them.
Even though there are some repeat offenders – Black Rock Beach and Dingle Beach, for example – Stairs says the city isn’t considering closing any of them, saying “they’re open a fair amount throughout the sea- son.”
“We want the beaches to be available to the public as often as they can,” she said.
“We want them to have options throughout the city. We just want to make sure they’re safe options, and that people are able to swim at a spot where they know — and they’re confident – that it’s going to be safe for their family.”
What happens to the lifeguards?
They may not have much to do, but lifeguards assigned to beaches that get closed still have to report for duty.
Stairs says the lifeguards stay there to tell people the beach is closed and why. And if those people choose not to listen, they are there to rescue them.
She says in the case of a long-term closure, the city would likely reassign the life guard to another beach.
People sit near Black Rock Beach, which was closed to swimming due to high bacteria levels.