Stettler gears up for annual Communities in Bloom challenge

As the 2011 National Champs, the Town now competes in the international category

Stettler is again going to head to head on an international level with other communities via the annual Communities in Bloom challenge.

This year, the Town is entered in the ‘International Challenge – Small’ category which also includes Comune di Spello, Perugia, Italy and Občina Zreče, Slovenia.

Evaluations here in town will take place July 19th by Communities in Bloom Judges Lorna McIlroy and Andrea Bocsi.

“You tour them around for the day,” explained Rob Spencer, chairman of the local committee.

And as the 2011 national champs, Stettler now competes in the international category.

“They judge you within six categories, and there is a break-down of what they will mark you out of. In total, there are 1,000 points. Based on where you fall within those 1,000 points gives you your ‘Bloom’ rating.”

Categories run the gamut from tidiness, environmental action and heritage conservation to urban forestry, landscape and floral displays.

The evaluation is also based on the local conditions and achievements of citizens, businesses, organizations, institutions and the municipal government working together towards common objectives.

Communities are rated from one to five ‘Blooms’ based on the scoring obtained.

“At the end, you also get an evaluation back which shows how you did in each category. You get a sense of what you may have missed – they will give you the good things they observed and the things they think you could perhaps improve on, along with some suggestions,” he explained.

“It’s really useful, and we will build projects to try and accomplish some of those things, because it’s an ‘outside’ set of eyes.

“Our goal this year is to present the new projects that we are doing, highlight the things that are ongoing and what we are continually improving on as well.

“We’ll start at the Town office, walk Main Street; show them parks, businesses, individual residences, volunteer and community groups. It’s way more than just flowers,” he added.

Spencer said past years have seen judges arrive in town from such locales as Quebec and Saskatchewan to Hungary, the Netherlands and Britain.

Meanwhile, Communities in Bloom is marking its 25th anniversary this year, said Spencer.

Established with the guidance of initiatives including ‘Britain in Bloom’, ‘Tidy Towns of Ireland’ and ‘Villes et Villages Fleuris de France’, Communities in Bloom was first launched back in 1994 with the first edition held in 1995.

Since then, more than 1,200 communities have participated from across Canada and in the international challenge involving communities from Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe.

Looking ahead, the national and international results, along with the Alberta results, will be announced in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia this September during the Symposium and Awards Ceremonies.

In the meantime, local residents can help.

“They can make sure things are tidy. We want people to be doing this all year long. There is also a community involvement element in it. It used to be a separate category – now it’s pervasive amongst all six categories.”

For Spencer, who also works for the provincial government, being involved with Communities in Bloom has been a fulfilling venture from day one.

“I like being out working on a community project and being able to meet someone who walks by, and I can tell them a little bit about what we are doing and why. Hopefully, it will have some meaningful impact.”

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