The Village of Ashcroft has achieved a provincial—and possibly a national—first: getting the Communities in Bloom (CIB) logo placed on official highway signage provided by the province.
The village has been trying to find replacements for the two billboards pointing the way to Ashcroft that were on the Trans-Canada Highway until 2014, but which had to be taken down as they did not meet Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) requirements. It was discovered that MOTI has standard signs which they will install at no charge if the community is a member of certain organizations, but CIB was not on the list.
In 2010 Ashcroft won the provincial CIB competition for communities of its size, and in 2013 won the national title. Surveys have indicated that tourists will try to stop and spend time in winning communities, as CIB is a well-recognized international organization.
At the open meeting of December 14, 2015, council moved to have staff write to MOTI and request that the ministry develop standardized signage directing travellers to communities that have won the provincial, national, or international categories of CIB competition. The letter, which was addressed to Transportation Minister Todd Stone, explained that being a member of the CIB organization was a large economic and tourism factor, and that the village wanted to be able to advertise on the Trans-Canada that it was a CIB community.
Stone’s office put village staff in touch with Ross McLean, manager of the provincial sign program for MOTI, who attended a meeting in Ashcroft and was agreeable to having the CIB logo put on provincial signage.
Permission to use the logo was obtained from the national CIB office, and the design specifications were forwarded to MOTI. Several draft designs were created, and the village chose the one which was felt to be the best.
A close-up of the Communities in Bloom logo on the highway sign. Photo by Barbara Roden.
The signs were approved in May 2016 and installed in July, just before the CIB judges arrived for their visit. Ashcroft CIB committee chair Andrea Walker was able to show the judges the signs, and says they were “pretty impressed”.
Senior judge Ted Zarudny, who has judged all across Canada as well as internationally, said he had “never seen anything like it anywhere,” reports Walker.
It was initially thought it was a first for the province; but when Walker spoke with national CIB president Raymond Carriere, he said he thought it was the first time anywhere in the country that official signage had included the CIB logo.
“He was blown away by the fact it’s on the Trans-Canada,” says Walker. “He said that he’d be tweeting the news out all across Canada, and is pretty sure that other CIB communities will want to know how to get this signage.”
The story made the front page of the provincial CIB newsletter for August 2016, with Ashcroft CAO Michelle Allen explaining the process of getting the sigms, and Carriere has said he would like to feature Ashcroft in the spring 2017 edition of the national CIB magazine.
Walker says that the Ashcroft CIB committee has been encouraging village council and staff to ask for the CIB logo on highway signs. “We’ve been trying to impress on them the scope of the CIB program, and the benefits of what it can do for the community. It’s huge. They obviously took our words to heart.
“It’s very gratifying for Ashcroft CIB to have had the mayor and council and administration push for this. When you get a few things like this in town, it really puts you on the map.”