‘They close, they open’

Beach clo­sure pat­tern same old story for Hal­i­fax

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCIAL -

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.

METRO PHOTO

Peo­ple sit near Black Rock Beach, which was closed to swimming due to high bac­te­ria lev­els.

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