City considers backing out of Bloom program

Massive budget shortfall makes Campbell River Council consider not entering Communities in Bloom

The city may not compete in Communities in Bloom this year – the first year Campbell River is invited to compete at the international level.

The Communities in Bloom Committee made a presentation to council in January asking the city for $27,000. At the time, council was hesitant to approve the funding – which includes a $950 registration fee – due to a $3.6 million budget deficit.

On Tuesday, council debated not participating in the competition– one of several service cuts under consideration.

But, according to Mayor Walter Jakeway, the Communities in Bloom committee may have already made that decision for the city.

“I believe a recommendation is coming from the committee to not participate at all this year,” Jakeway said. “I suspect it’s not going to happen this year.”

Jakeway said he wasn’t positive where the information had come from, but he thought it was from City Manager Andy Laidlaw.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s manager of parks, recreation and culture, said that was the first he had heard of such information.

“The mayor’s comments (Tuesday) night took me by surprise,” said Milnthorp, who added he was meeting with the committee on Thursday, after the Mirror went to press. Milnthorp also said he believes the committee plans to come as a delegation at the Feb. 21 council meeting.

It appeared the rest of council was also unaware the committee may be pulling out of the competition.

Before Jakeway spoke, Coun. Claire Moglove said her intention was to keep Communities in Bloom on the table.

“I think it’s not in the city’s best interest to not participate in this one,” Moglove said. “When the committee presented (last month) they said if we don’t participate in 2012, then we have to start from the beginning again (at the provincial level).”

Moglove suggested council reduce the Communities in Bloom budget by $13,000.

Coun. Mary Storry reluctantly agreed.

“It’s certainly with a heavy heart that I don’t support the full amount,” Storry said.

But after Jakeway spoke, council decided to hold off on making any decisions before hearing from the committee.

Last year the city participated at the national level and won the 20,001-50,000 population category, and received five out of five blooms. The city also received special mention for the Baikie Island Restoration project, the Sustainable Development Award and an award for the best community exhibit at Communities in Bloom’s symposium and awards ceremony in Quebec.

Campbell River was judged on: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, turf and ground covers, and floral displays.

Its success garnered an invite for the city to compete at the international level for the first time.

Communities in Bloom is about fostering civic pride and getting the community involved in making it a better place to live, work and visit.