Communities in Bloom judges visit Castlegar – PHOTO GALLERY

Communities in Bloom judges were in town for a couple of days and were very impressed by what they saw in Castlegar.

Communities in Bloom judges Darlene Blake (third from left) and Steve Preston (fourth from left) were in Castlegar recently to view and judge the city.

Communities in Bloom judges Darlene Blake (third from left) and Steve Preston (fourth from left) were in Castlegar recently to view and judge the city.



Communities in Bloom judges were in town for a couple of days and were very impressed by what they saw in Castlegar.

The Communities in Bloom program is a nationwide program that awards cities and towns throughout Canada for the many qualities that make a place beautiful.

The program has been so successful that the United States has copied it. In fact, one of the judges that visited Castlegar, Darlene Blake, hailed from Des Moines, Iowa, and is part of the U.S. Communities in Bloom program.

“When we how saw wonderful and successful the Communities in Bloom program was, we started a copy-cat program called America in Bloom in 2002,” said Blake.

The Communities in Bloom program judges cities and towns against other similar sized cities and towns across Canada on several categories such as tidiness, environmental actions, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays.

The program is a success for many reasons, says Blake. “There’s a clearly defined criteria so people know what to expect,” she said. “Plus it brings together the different factions – the different special interest groups – so that the goal of the program is quality of life improvement for every citizen.”

Blake and fellow judge Steve Preston, who hails from Brampton, Ontario, both came away very impressed with Castlegar and all our city has to offer.

The two were taken on a whirlwind two-day tour of the best the city and area have to offer by Castlegar Communities in Bloom board members. Blake and Preston have judged several cities throughout Canada and believe each is different and beautiful in its own way.

“Every city has its own unique charm,” said Blake. “So you can’t compare them as such. Every city competes with itself to improve year after year. We loved all the cities. Castlegar is one that I feel most comfortable. You’ve got a great city. There’s no doubt about it.”

When asked how to compare cities from B.C. to ones in Alberta or Nova Scotia that have completely different geographical situations, Preston says you judge the city against itself.

“We do not compare at any time (cities to each other),” he said. “The environmental situations are so different. It’s all taken into consideration. More important is – what is this community doing to be better, to be more successful, to be healthier. That’s how we compare.”

The judges arrived on Sunday morning at the West Kootenay Regional Airport and were taken to the City of Castlegar’s belated Canada Day pancake breakfast by CiB president Darlene Kalawsky.

After breakfast, the judges were taken on a walking tour of downtown Castlegar and SculptureWalk with Pat Field.

On Monday, the judges saw more of Castlegar and area’s top attractions including Twin Rivers Park, Castle Theatre, City Hall, Station Museum and Community Harvest Food Bank, Kinnaird Park, the Community Complex, Selkirk College, and the Brilliant Bridge restoration project.

The judges tour wrapped up with a wine and dessert meet and greet at the Kootenay Gallery. Attending the event were Communities in Bloom members, City of Castegar councillors and staff, mayor Lawrence Chernoff, and several members of the public.

The announcement of the award winners will take place at the Communities in Bloom National Symposium, which takes place Oct. 9-15 in Edmonton.