The Communities in Bloom committee will not compete in this year’s international competition if the city cuts its parks staff.
Despite the success of the program – the city won the national competition in the 20,001-50,000 population category last year – Communities in Bloom puts a strain on the city’s budget. The committee is looking for $26,000 from the city to compete but council is considering not funding the program to help chip away at a $3.6 million 2012 budget deficit.
The city is also contemplating cutting horticulture by 50 per cent; eliminating grass trimming and manual mowing in parks; and cutting one park specialist position.
Nigel Lambeth, chair of the Communities in Bloom Committee, said if council does eliminate its parks staff, it would be hard for the city to recover.
“These cuts are, at best “band-aid solutions”,” Lambeth said “I beg to ask the question what happens to these under-maintained public areas next year after one year of neglect.”
Lambeth said if it comes down to one or the other, he would rather the city use the money from the Communities in Bloom budget to keep up maintenance levels in city parks and public spaces.
“If council chooses to cut the parks staffing levels, we as a committee will choose not to compete in Communities in Bloom at the international level in 2012,” Lambeth said. If the city does not compete, it can be non-evaluated for two years while keeping its ranking and eligibility to compete, as long as the city competes in the third year.
“We would use that option but would still ask to remain a city committee and request a budget of $2,000,” Lambeth said. “This would allow us to continue with both residential and business recognition.”
Lambeth stressed it would not be the committee’s first choice to not compete.
“In these times when the city is trying to attract new people and business to Campbell River, Communities in Bloom helps to present our city in the best way possible,” Lambeth said. “Many people have worked very hard to keep our city looking how it is and we feel it is imperative to not move backwards.”