Campbell River invited to participate in special Communities in Bloom competition

The City of Campbell River has been invited to rejoin Communities in Bloom and participate in a special edition of the program.

The City of Campbell River has been invited to rejoin Communities in Bloom and participate in a special edition of the beautification program.

As a past national winner, Campbell River is one of select communities across the country that has earned the right to participate in a new category celebrating Canada’s birthday.

Bob Lewis, national chair of Communities in Bloom, wrote in a letter to city council that the Canada 150 category is a “one-time special non-competitive edition to provide communities with the opportunity to showcase achievements in greening your community (and) celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.”

At Monday’s council meeting, council chose to refer the invitation to the city’s parks and recreation staff as well as the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture  Commission to see if there’s any interest in participating in the program again.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield reminded council that the city has had success before, including winning the national competition in 2011 in its population category. But, Cornfield said he wants to gauge the level of interest in returning to the program before council commits to anything.

“It does take a lot of volunteer effort and a lot of commitment, so without that dedication to the commitment by our volunteers and from our staff, as well, it won’t work,” Cornfield said. “But I think before we say ‘no’ we should at least refer it to our commission and staff and get their take on it.”

The city officially withdrew from Communities in Bloom in 2013 after going on a two-year hiatus following the national win in 2011. Winning at the national level earned Campbell River the right to compete internationally but council pulled out of the competition due to budget constraints, partly as a result of the Catalyst mill shutting down and the city facing a $3.6 million deficit in its 2012 budget.

Realizing the required $26,000 to compete in the program was too rich for the city, council made the decision to evolve the city’s Communities in Bloom Committee to a Community Beautification group. That group took on low-cost activities such as community clean up days, broom bashes, community workshops, the Adopt-A-Highway program and provided recommendations to city council on beautification matters.

In an effort to draw Campbell River back into the Communities in Bloom fold, Lewis said the program has been revised and streamlined by reducing the number of evaluated elements by 50 per cent, minimizing profile book requirements and optimizing, as per the city’s request, the judges’ visit.

Lewis added that if Campbell River participates in the Canada 150 category that it will be invited to attend the Canada 150 celebrations in Ottawa during the 2017 Symposium and Awards Ceremonies in September. The event is billed as a networking opportunity with communities from across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia and includes presentations on green spaces and urban forests as well as community engagement.

Communities in Bloom was established in 1995 based on programs in Britain, Ireland and France.

Participating communities are judged by a volunteer jury on eight key criteria: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, turf and ground covers, floral displays and community involvement.

The program aims to foster civic pride and encourage citizens to get involved in making their communities a better place to live, work and visit.