Castlegar wins highest honour - five blooms

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 3rd, 2010

 It’s official – Castlegar is Bloomin’ beautiful, baby!

Castlegar was, for the first time in its history, designated a ‘Five-Bloom’ community by Communities in Bloom (CiB), the highest such designation a community can achieve within the international competition.
The announcement was made at an Academy-Awards-style gala event held in Halifax last weekend, and Castlegar CiB chair Darlene Kalawsky was on hand to accept the accolades and peruse the judges’ critique of our city’s efforts.
She said that, of the nine communities in our category (categories are based on population size), only five achieved five-bloom status, while Vermillion, Alta., won for best in the category, which means that they received the highest score out of a possible 1,000 points.
Kalawsky said she has no idea how many points the other three five-bloom communities got, but Castlegar scored 826.75 … a bloomin’ coup, given the seven short years the city has been competing.
She said the first years of participation were about obvious, large-scale projects to get in line with CiB goals, and now that this groundwork is laid, achievements will be more subtle; more about fine-tuning what’s already in place.
“A lot of (what’s ahead) is going to fall largely back to our city and its leadership,” Kalawsky said, explaining much will come from the city seeking grants from other levels of government. “For example, last year, the federal government had grants to embellish community cenotaphs – Trail made use of that funding.
“The city will be instrumental in looking for that kind of opportunity; in becoming aware of what’s going on out there and how to tap into it.”
She said the judges created a comprehensive series of recommendations, from city bylaws to protect local heritage to suggestions on use-based management of turf, to ideas about public education with a goal of reduced landfill use … and local CiB volunteers will meet with Transportation and Civic Works staff to go over these recommendations and help map out the coming year’s priorities.
Last year saw more than 2,500 new trees planted in Castlegar, and another 4,000 bulbs – this year, Kalawsky’s aiming for 8,000 bulbs, not counting the 4,000 earmarked for the Hyundai and Toyota dealerships.
“Our floral displays were the highest scoring in every criteria,” she said, but stressed that flowers are the least of the CiB mandate, which incorporates environmental stewardship, community pride, commerce promotion, innovation, best-practice adoption and more.
She said one of Castlegar’s highest-ranking areas was in its community relationships, as the city received top honours for promoting partnerships and participation from all sectors, including the business community.
“I’m very, very excited about the five blooms, and very, very pleased for our volunteers, who work so hard,” she said.