Swimming Along the Shores of Kingston

Kingston's waterfront, safer beachesLast Summer, amidst the uncomfortable heat and our continued resolve not to get air conditioning, Danielle and I took to lake swimming. We primarily enjoyed dips at Richardson Beach and participated in Mass Swimm II at Breakwater Park, while both of these areas have seen minor swim-friendly upgrades in recent years, but remain largely ill-equipped and thus vastly underutilized. My recent exposure to swimming along Kingston’s waterfront has given me a better understanding of the infrastructure that’s in place, and it has led to some offline discussions pertaining to how and where local open water swimming areas should be improved. Why shouldn’t Kingstonians expect a return to our former swim-friendly heyday, where residents and visitors can safely flock to enjoy a dip and beat the heat a hot day? Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
[poll id=”160″]
When it comes to getting new swimmers into Lake Ontario, the most common concern I’ve heard pertains to personal safety. This is a real concern for me as well, which is why I always swim with a buddy or two, wear water shoes to protect my feet and check water quality via the Waterkeeper Swim Guide before taking the plunge (get the app here). The latter is a relatively new resource, which crowd sources the reporting of pollution, as well as areas that are not recommended nor safe for swimming. Of course, personal safety extends far beyond water quality, as Kingston’s beaches, unlike municipal pools, are unsupervised and with minimal lifesaving equipment nearby.

On any given sunny Summer day, the potential of our waterfront is evidenced by the throngs of people found picnicking, kite surfing, and splashing around in the water and along the shoreline. I would love to see these sorts of activities grow as a result of real investments in infrastructure making our waterfront safer and more alluring to prospective swimmers. I see it as one of those ‘if you build it, they will come’ type of scenarios, with the possible addition of food trucks, buskers and everything you could hope for on a busy shoreline.  Is it too much to ask that more resources be devoted to making the most out of Kingston’s most cherished resources? How would you improve Kingston’s waterfront for swimmers? Drop off you refreshing ideas below.

Thanks to squiddity of toronto for today’s photo, which has me dreaming about what Kingston’s waterfront could be.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

11 thoughts on “Swimming Along the Shores of Kingston

  • Our Health Unit releases no actionable data about their testing of local swimming spots. Either the swim areas are posted, or not. The KFL&A Health Unit gives us zero information on sampling methods, frequency, or test sample values.

    Compare this to Toronto. Toronto publishes specific data, complete with test sample values, on a daily basis in an easily accessible form so you can gauge the health risk and look-back over days, weeks, even years of detailed water test results.

    Have a look: http://app.toronto.ca/tpha/beaches.html — dig down, you can see daily results back to 2007 for some beaches.

    Also: our Health Unit only starts reporting in July. As you can see, Toronto starts detail reporting in June.

    So accessibility issues aside, I don’t swim here, at least nowhere near the Kingston shoreline. The main reason is I KNOW local health bureaucrats just don’t care. I’ve been saying this for years.

    Want proof? behold the KFL&A beach report: . — There will be butkus here until July if experience is a guide. How come Toronto does such a great job, but we get this?

    My guess: if it we had really great water quality, the Tourism and Recreation people here would be all over it. For me, I suspect it’s a case of less disclosed, the better.

    • I assume you're referring to the photo at the top of the post. If that's correct, as stated in the last sentence, this shows off one of Toronto's beaches.

      • I would think ajrw is being facetious. Much like the city in Camus' The Plague, Kingston is a city that seemingly turns its back on its waterfront via private condos/hotels/residences.

        Is it necessary that we reach Toronto-like density before we cherish what we've lost, and are continuing to lose?

        • I WAS being facetious. Kingston's Waterfront(?) has been obscenely disfigured and mismanaged. Can a city's waterfront be ugly? Yes! (I love the Camus allusion.)

  • Sorry folks – this is not Kington. I've lived here 20+ years and don't know where this beach is!

    • I agree! I have lived here 51 yrs and even tho Kingston has water on three sides of it, we DO NOT have one sand beach!!

      • Not sure how many City Council watchers there are in the crowd, but happy to report that last night's Council Meeting put us one step closer to having a sandy beach. Council approved plans for a sand beach at Breakwater Park! Check out the recap/vid here.

  • I was born and brought up in Kingston and the water quality’s been iffy for decades.

    In 1978 I took my puppy to Lake Ontario Park for swimming lessons. Since I was a little unsure of the water quality that year I tried to find a place that looked as if it had a strong current in the hope that it would be ‘flushing’ any contaminants out toward the larger open water of Lake Ontario.

    We were only in the water a short time and I only went in up to my waist; however, within hours I was in KGH ER. I had contracted a beta-hemolytic strep infection in my abdomen, with a fever of 103F and it nearly killed me.

    I’m female, and I hadn’t thought about other areas besides the face via which one might pick up this infection.

    Fortunately, the puppy didn’t appear affected.

    I’ll sail any day along Kingston’s waterfront and will swim when I’m further away from shore but I’ve never gone in to the water (at least above my knees) along the shore since.

  • Gone by Lake Ontario many times, but never really think about going in it around Kingston. Having no sand beach doesn't help.

  • I'd be interested in hearing where people DO swim. I have my spot, but you need permission to swim there.

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