The Village of Ashcroft has received five blooms (out of five) and a bronze at the Communities in Bloom (CiB) national symposium in Regina. The village was entered in the very competitive “Class of Champions” category, for towns that have previously won the national competition.
There were five other small population towns across the country entered in the category, with Sussex, NB getting five blooms and a silver. The other four communities were Millet, AB; Kinistino, SK; Tignish, PEI; and Vermilion, AB, all of which also received five blooms and a bronze.
Ashcroft CiB chair Andrea Walker says that Ashcroft received an overall rating of 85.13 per cent, the highest ever for the village at the CiB competition.
An evaluation report shows how the village scored in the various categories judges look at (Tidiness, Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Urban Forestry, Landscape, and Floral Displays), along with observations and recommendations that make it a very useful tool for the CiB committee.
Walker notes that every year the judges look for something notable in the community to single out, and this year judges Ted Zarudny and Larry Hall had special praise for the glass mosaics around the town. Four of the mosaics were unveiled at the Heritage Park during the judges’ visit in July.
“There are many communities throughout Canada that have gained recognition through various displays of art throughout their community,” wrote Zarudny and Hall. “Ashcroft will be one of these communities advancing their recognition and tourism through their Glass Mosaic displays.
“Two artists [Marina Papais and Daniel Collett] within the community have started a program that teaches members of the community how to make these colourful glass mosaics, which are being displayed in various parts of their community.” The judges mention the Heritage Park mosaics, as well as the large one at the Chinese cemetery, which was installed in June:
“The historic Chinese cemetery has had a beautiful translucent mosaic installed. These beautiful works of art shimmer in the sunlight and add to the overall beauty of the community for all to see and enjoy. This is truly an art walk in progress.”
Walker notes that this year CiB offered a new “Backyard” competition, open to anyone involved with the CiB program. Entrants were asked to send three pictures of their backyard, as well as a brief write-up, and Walker says she entered “on a whim”. She does not know how many others took part, and although she did not win the grand prize, she was one of five runners-up who received an autographed book by television, radio, and newspaper gardener Mark Cullen, as well as a $100 gift certificate from Home Hardware, which sponsored the contest.
Walker, who was in Regina for the CiB symposium, says that the event was very good, with more than 250 delegates attending from across Canada. In addition to the awards, there are sessions covering everything from age-friendly communities to how to engage with and build a volunteer base. “Lots of networking happens at these conference, with many great ideas exchanged.”
She notes the difficulty in letting people know that despite the name, it is not all about flowers. “Communities in Bloom is all about making your community a better place to live. The name is very clever, as you are making your community ‘bloom’, but it’s hard to get across that it is not just about flowers.
“We are always looking for community members who want to be a part of making our community a better place to live, work, and play. It is such a good program that I can never say enough good things about it. I feel that the program has been such a positive influence in our community, and has lived up to its motto: People, Plants, and Pride!”