Trail in Bloom organizers now await the judges’ final decision

The feeling of anticipation has swept through Trail as blooming volunteers wait to find out how their city fared.

The feeling of anticipation has swept through Trail as blooming volunteers wait to find out how their city fared against some tough international competition.

The city welcomed two judges last month to critique it on categories such as environmental action, heritage, community involvement and tidiness in an international Communities in Bloom competition for a population of under 10,000. Though the city was going up against some communities across the world, it was also challenging its neighbour, Castlegar.

“I think it went quite well,” said Dan Rodlie, Trail Community in Bloom (CiB) chair. “They were surprised of the city, I guess maybe they had a perception of this town prior to their arrival.”

The pair dropped in July 18 for a two-day visit that included a tour of the city’s quaint neighbourhoods, facilities and summer festivities. The lively visit included an “Avenue of the Clans” ribbon cutting ceremony at Gyro Park, prior to Thursday’s Music in the Park, and a stroll though the Trail Market the following day.

“They were difficult to read but that’s a sign of a good judge,” added Rodlie, who looks forward to receiving the city’s results when he attends the award ceremony in Ottawa on Oct. 26. That’s when the organization will also find out whether Trail’s youth population, particularly Crowe’s Green Team, will receive an award for its environmental initiatives.

“You go there to learn and interact with other communities,” said Rodlie. “There is up to 400 different communities attending and you want to learn from them, you want to see what best practices they’re following and what’s new out there.”

Though it’s hard to say which direction the local group will turn next year, Rodlie said this was the third and last year Trail can participate in the international portion of the program before climbing the ranks again. One thing is certain, he doesn’t want to stop while the city is ahead.

“If we were to step down now, how do we maintain that enthusiasm? Because if you’re not competing, then people start saying, ‘Oh maybe I’ll lay back for one year,’” he said. “But as soon as you start laying back, you also start slacking off.”

This year’s focus was on heritage, he said, pointing to the transformation of Gyro Park’s walkway into “Avenue of the Clans,” where nearly 30 banners made from tartan patterns of Trail’s Scottish pioneer families are hung from pathway light posts.

The judges were particularly interested in Trail’s history, commenting on it’s European flare seen in its houses posed on hilltops.

Though there was no clear mention, Rodlie said there were several questions around where artifacts are stored, which begged the question of why Trail doesn’t have a large museum to house all of its history.

The steering committee to review the library/museum proposal has been established, confirmed Andrea Jolly, Trail’s communications and events coordinator.

They met as a group on Thursday, where four proposals were reviewed and the one that best meets the needs of the city and its citizens will be selected.

Currently some of the city’s historical pieces are stored at the Trail Museum but also upstairs from City Hall, where the Trail Historical Society resides.

The tourists asked a lot of direct questions, comparing European standards to practices here in Trail and

some of their enquiries had to be referred to the city, said Rodlie.

The nature lovers wanted to know where a good place was to watch wildlife and how they would find out more on what kind of animals they could come across. They also wanted to know basic information like where locals and tourists would go to recycle and where they could find out more about such a facility.

“It was a bit different judging this year than probably what we’ve been used to because you’re basically showing two people, who are absolutely new to this area, the community,” said Rodlie. “They’ve been in British Columbia once before but were really green here.”

The tour wasn’t all roses, either. He said he had to take responsibility and show the judges “the good, bad and the ugly.”

Highlighting works in progress like the Victoria Street Corridor only shows progress, he said. Though downtown businesses unkept storefronts were noted, an area CiB can’t really hone in on, and the potential for better river access.

Trail has kept its standards high for over a decade, scoring the maximum five-bloom rating for 10 of the 11 years it’s competed in the competition that invites judges into communities to rate criteria.

A city has to work its way up the ranks — winning in it’s provincial and national categories before it can even be judged at the international level.

“How well we did, I don’t know,” said Rodlie. “I guess the proof is in the pudding.”