Castlegar under bloomin' microscope
Outsiders find Castlegar bloomin’ beautiful – at least that’s the hope of Communities in Bloom (CiB) organizers after judges toured the city last week.
Darlene Kalawsky, CiB coordinator, said two national-level judges received royal treatment over the course of almost two days, gathering tons of information that will hopefully lead them to designate Castlegar a five-bloom community.
“Joanne Dunphy and Lorna McIlroy got here Thursday at about 4 p.m.,” she said. “We had a volunteer reception that night, with a lot of people giving testimonials about their involvement with CiB.
“The Castlegar Quilters’ Guild announced they’ll be naming their regional quilting show a ‘Blooming Affair’, after us – it’s quite a large, four-day event,” Kalawsky added. “And we had young volunteers there, as we now have a partnership with the youth centre.
“The City of Castlegar was represented, and we gave out awards to winners in our gardening contest – we had 35 entries this year …and on and on it went. I was a great evening.”
The next morning saw the judges, along with Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, get down to business, beginning their tour at the Millennium Walkway, where city director of transportation and civic works explained how the park is being managed and utilized. From there, they saw the community gardens, then were treated to a comprehensive tour of SculptureWalk by organizer Pat Field.
“The judges helped plant a tea white lilac tree at Castlewood Village, in honour of all the support they’ve offered CiB since the very beginning (they have their own gorgeous gardens in back – you should really go see them), then went to see City Hall,” she said. “Then it was Kinnaird Park, then Grandview Heights and their Trees for Tomorrow program, and Wayne Naka at Kinnaird Elementary gave us an overview of the school’s greening program.”
Other tour highlights included the Blueberry Community School’s environmental walkway program, the Brilliant Bridge (with a historical overview from RDCK director Gord Zaitsoff), the Kootenay Gallery, the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, Verigin’s Tomb, Sandsations and more.
“I think we’ve done a very good job this year, presenting the technical side as well as the social side (of CiB efforts),” Kalawsky said, adding Castlegar is competing in a group of eight communities this year, all with populations between 3,500 and 7,500.
She said the judges seemed to look very favourably upon Castlegar’s version of Happily Ever After.
“We won’t find out how we ranked until October, at the conference in Halifax,” she said. “But our goal is to get five blooms – we only missed it by a fraction of a point last year.”
She said Castlegar CiB volunteers really outdid themselves this year in networking and getting others on board, and she thinks the judging will reflect that.
“But it’s not only about when the judges come – it’s a year-round effort,” she said. “(In the upcoming year), we’ll be expanding Sculpturewalk into other parts of Castlegar, working on our Streetsweep initiative to encourage local businesses to participate – there’ll be so much going on.”