A crew from Alpine Contracting was near the intersection of Hwy 3B and Hwy 22 spreading bark mulch around the plants on Tuesday.  Guy Bertrand photo

A crew from Alpine Contracting was near the intersection of Hwy 3B and Hwy 22 spreading bark mulch around the plants on Tuesday. Guy Bertrand photo

Blooming judges arrive in Trail next week

Coun. Carol Dobie asks homeowners and tenants to spiff up their boulevards before judges arrive

Trail may have a trump card against national competitors when Communities in Bloom (CiB) judges arrive next week to give the city a once-over.

This is the first year the Trail Riverfront Centre will be part of the summer tour. The new museum and public library will certainly play a key role in the heritage category, which is one of six features the judges will be focusing on.

Heritage covers a broad scope of interest that looks at biodiversity of native flora and fauna as well as mortar and bricks. More so, the category includes cultural conservation and preserving the legacy of tangible elements like buildings and artifacts as well as the intangible such as local customs and traditions.

A little further south is the newly expanded Community Food Bank Garden, which is another feature that could boost the city’s marks.

“Community gardens are huge,” says Coun. Carol Dobie. “The fact that we’ve moved ours to a larger location allowing for more growth, and now that we’ve moved, we are allowing people to have their own little garden,” she said.

“So it’s the expansion and the development of a community garden to incorporate as many people as we can, not just for the food banks but for the individual homeowner who doesn’t have a big enough plot of land to plant a little garden.”

When Canadian judges Cliff Lacey and Cynthia Boyd tour the Silver City July 26, they’ll be sizing up Trail against Castlegar, Ashcroft, and Knistino, SK in the Class of Champions, small category.

Before evaluation day, Coun. Dobie and the city are asking homeowners and tenants to spiff up their yards and boulevards, because the heart of the program is to foster community pride and spirit.

“I don’t think people recognize the value in us being in Communities in Bloom and what it does for the city,” Dobie said, mentioning the program’s international impact. “It’s not just about planting flowers and making your city beautiful … it’s the fact that we are looking at our stewardship role in our local environment in terms of what we plant, how we plant, where we plant and the importance of trees in our area, that’s such a big issue,” she added.

“And we are beautifying our city when we do all this.”

Fresh off a big award last year where Trail was recognized with a Scotts Youth Involvement Award for outstanding efforts engaging Trail teens, volunteers are aiming for a higher rating in addition to maintaining a five-bloom rating.

“No doubt volunteers have been absolutely incredible this year,” said Dobie “We’ve had a few things that fell through the cracks in terms of suppliers, but volunteers put in a lot of extra effort to have the plants out a lot earlier this year so the community could enjoy them for grad, the swim meets and the Little League provincials.”

Dobie is nearing the end of her first council term and says this is her “swan song.”

“I’ve loved my four years with this group, it’s been really great and a very special thank you goes out to all our volunteers. And it’s not just about making this perfect for the judges, this is about awarding our community and tax base.”

The judges are scheduled to arrive in Trail July 25, evaluate the following day, and leave July 27.

Cliff Lacey is a retired parks manager from Strathcona County. As a judge, he says his interest lies in how green spaces accommodate public use and enjoyment.

Dr. Cynthia Boyd has been a gardener of small and medium garden spaces in St. John’s Nfld for over 20 years. During the many years she has been a gardener, writer and member of horticultural groups, Boyd has observed how people identify themselves through their garden spaces, and there no better way to initiate and stimulate conversation than through the often, mysterious power of plants.

In addition to the design and maintenance of floral displays, the criteria falls into categories that include tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscapes.

The judges look at how well parks and green spaces are maintained, but they also note things like litter, graffiti and if the community supports vandalism deterrent programs. They’ll evaluate factors like human activities on the environment and community efforts like policies and bylaws for waste reduction, landfill diversion, composting sites and other stewardship programs that guide principals of sustainable development in green spaces.

Finally, aspects of landscape such as use of parks, year round or otherwise, are looked at as well as tree replacement policies and pollinator-friend tree selection.

This year’s award ceremony is slated from Sept. 26 to Sept. 29 in Strathcona County, AB.