Hoping to receive a five-bloom rating in this year’s Communities in Bloom (CiB) provincial award, Hope Communities in Bloom chairperson Victor Smith and his volunteers put in over 2,300 hours of work to pretty up Hope.
All the work culminated in the visit of CiB judges Bruce Hobin and Vania Bowman from July 17 to 19. They arrived in the afternoon of that Monday and stayed for two days under the constant care of Smith.
The first day saw them check into the Colonial 900 Motel and also attend a volunteers’ and sponsors’ meeting at the Owl Street Cafe where they got to know each other.
The next day proved to be a full-day affair. Before they even got to breakfast, Valley Helicopters took them up in the air with District of Hope operations supervisor Kevin Dicken to talk about Hope’s landfill, the town and the sewage treatment plant. The conversation of the treatment plant, which will see a multi-million dollar upgrade, continued into breakfast.
After that, they visited Hope from west to east, stopping at many locations including aquaponics greenhouse You Grow Food, Silver Creek Elementary School, Station House, Hope’s community garden and the Kawkawa Lake Park.
Asked if he considered that Station House requires a lot of renovation, he replied that the judges appreciate places with a historical value and few other equivalents remain in Western Canada. He also wanted to show them the work they have done on a berm which they cleaned and beautified.
During the tour, the judges met with the District of Hope, learning of the Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest. They also met with Hope Mountain Centre’s program director Kelly Pearce, where he introduced the outdoor organization’s projects.
The tour ended around 5 p.m. at Pearl Martin’s home. Martin’s home has a garden trail system with features such as a rest area and a commemorative tree. Her neighbours, Verena and Julius Brysch, put a lot of work into the trails, and on that day, took the judges through the trails.
“It’s kind of important to get young people to come on board like that,” said Smith.
The final day saw Smith sit down with the judges to hear of some ideas which Hope could do to improve itself. Smith said he received positive comments and ideas which he did not think of.
“One of them, I can see is very feasible actually, lots of money to do it, but it’d be very interesting,” said Smith. “We’ll wait and see here.”
Smith said he needed to check with others before making that idea public.
Judges will give a score from one to five “blooms.” Hope has gotten mostly five blooms since it participated in 2007. Smith said he expects nothing less.
“We expect five, we expect to win,” said Smith. “We always expect to win.”
Judges will make their scores public in September, when they meet for an annual general meeting. According to Bowman and Hobin, communities will be judged on floral displays, urban forestry, environmental awareness, heritage, tidiness, landscaping.
Hobin and Bowman have different levels of experience in CiB. In fact, Hope happens to be the first community which Bowman is judging. Bowman said Hope has set a high bar for everyone else.
“I have a friend that’s been judging Manitoba for seven years and she’s never flown in a helicopter or a plane before. It’s definitely a good way to start off my CiB career,” she said.
For Hobin, by the time he finishes his tour, which continues in Abbotsford and Whitehorse, he would have judged 35 communities in three provinces. Hobin said Hope performed outstandingly in some aspects.
“What’s evident here is Hope is a community in bloom, easily,” he said.
Hobin said he learns a lot more about communities during informal conversations, such as during dinnertime last Tuesday, where he sat with Visitor Centre and Museum Complex manager Helen Kennedy, Dicken and Smith, along with their spouses.
“Informally, we learned about the character of the people of the community, because Communities in Bloom is about people,” he said.
“You feel relaxed, it’s informal, you’re conversational. Whereas on a tour, it’s business.”
Hobin revealed that municipalities’ efforts are weighted heavily during judging, but for a community to be in bloom, Hobin said businesses, institutions and residents need to chip in.
“You can’t discount the role citizens play,” said Hobin. “It’s a team event.”
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