Communities in Bloom judges arrived in town Sunday afternoon and spent the next few days touring and evaluating Castlegar.
This year’s judges are Gaétan Deschênes from Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Québec and Steve Preston from Brampton, Ontario.
Preston was one of the CIB judges that came to Castlegar in 2010, the year of the flooding. He stated that things look a bit different this year. In 2010 while touring Millennium Park, the pathway had to be pointed out only by the lampposts that marked the way. He was excited to see all the changes that have come in the past five years. One thing he found particularly moving was seeing the completed restoration of the Doukhobor Suspension Bridge in Brilliant, on his previous visit it was still under construction.
This is the first time Deschênes has visited Castlegar but he said, “My first impression is very good. I would like to come back some time.”
The team will travel to eight different cities in order to carry out their judging duties this year. They started out Monday morning by attending the commemorative flag raising held at the new flag pole at the Robson interchange.
The ceremony was attended by citizens, donors and CIB volunteers. Local politicians Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, MP Alex Atamenenko, MLA Katrine Conroy and RDCK Area J director Rick Smith were also on hand to offer their congratulations.
“I extend sincere gratitude to Kathy Gregory and the Communities in Bloom volunteers who had the idea to install a Canadian flag here at the Castlegar Robson interchange and set forth to make that idea a reality,” said Mayor Chernoff. “I am proud to live in a community where various departments, organizations and individuals are always willing to get involved and work together to enhance our community.”
Other stops on the judge’s tour included Millennium Park, City Hall, Sculpturewalk, Station Museum, Castlewood Village, Kinnaird Elementary School, Fire Hall, Skate Park, Recreation Complex, Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre, Zuckerburg Island and the MIR Centre for Peace.
Monday’s agenda closed with a volunteer reception at Kinnaird Park where volunteers were honoured for all of their hard work. Several businesses were honoured for supporting Communities in Bloom for the entire ten years that the program has been running in Castlegar including Castlegar News, Trowlex, Sandman and the City of Castlegar.
By the time of the BBQ, the judges had completed their tour of the city and judge Steve Preston commented that he kept finding himself looking around and admiring the beauty and fresh air.
“I truly hope that everybody that lives here truly appreciates where they are. It is an amazing community. It is a gift, it is your responsibility to maintain and sustain this gift that you have been given,” said Preston.
The judges left Castlegar Tuesday morning, but the results will not be known until the end of September when they will be announced in Kamloops during the Communities in Bloom awards ceremony.