The City of Castlegar is participating in the Communities in Bloom National Awards Ceremonies coming up from Oct. 26-29 in Quebec City. Castlegar will be competing in the 7,501-10,000 population category against Amherst, NS; Hinton, AB; New Glasgow, NS; Winkler, MB; and Yarmouth, NS.
“We began competing in 2005 at the provincial level and now this will be our third year at the national level,” said Castlegar Communities in Bloom chair Darlene Kalawsky on Oct. 18. “Last year we received five blooms for the first time. We were happy with that.”
The cities will be judged on eight specific criteria: Floral, Landscape, Urban Forestry, Environment, Tidiness, Community Involvement, Turf and Groundcover, and Heritage.
“The city that gets the most points out of 1,000 is rated as the winner of the category,” said Kalawsky.
The judges for the 7,501 to 10,000 category are Arlene Janzen and Hugh Skinner. Janzen is long-time judge and Parks and Recreation board member from White City, Saskatchewan, while Skinner is a horticulturalist and author from Roblin, Manitoba.
“We never get a repeat of the same judges. Usually they alternate them,” said Kalawsky.
The success of the Communities in Bloom (CIB) program is due to the strong volunteer base in the area, said Kalawsky.
“What the CIB program is doing is basically motivating, partnering and nourishing this volunteer core in our community to drive some of these things and bring some of these partnerships to fruition,” she said. “For example, for floral displays – all the floral displays in the city are done by volunteers but the ideas come from the central committee.”
The CIB central committee consists of five members including a representative from Castlegar City Council and Castlegar Public Works.
“It’s all about working together to better your community,” said Kalawsky. “We have an extremely wonderful number of volunteers in our community that are concerned about their city. They’re concerned about their city looking good and making it a great place to live. That’s what I would say is so great about Castlegar. We’ve seen such an improvement in our city since the Communities in Bloom program was initiated.”
One of the great ideas that sprung from the CIB program was the Castlegar Sculpture Walk.
“That’s one of the great spin-offs of this program – you get volunteers coming up with great ideas about what would make your city a better place,” said Kalawsky. “That’s what’s so great about Castlegar. It has improved so much. The visual side of it has improved. We have people constantly going out and doing things. It’s making our city very attractive. We’re hoping that it will be an economic driver.”
The national awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the National Symposium on Parks and Grounds. The symposium includes conference sessions, workshops, and technical visits on the theme of environmental horticulture.
“You have an opportunity to see what other places are doing and share ideas,” said Kalawsky, who will be traveling to the awards ceremony and symposium. “We’ll bring back lots of ideas.”
Sculpture Walk co-ordinator Pat Field will also be at the event as a presenter.
Castlegar Communities in Bloom will be presenting on Friday morning, Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m. The presentation will be “Community Engagement in Public Art” with the topic “A defining moment for Castlegar, BC”.
“We have a power point presentation on the City of Castlegar as well as on the Sculpture Walk,” said Kalawsky.