When you hear Communities In Bloom, your mind might go to thinking about flowers and well maintained gardens. It’s really easy to understand why you might think that as well. If you rent or live in a condo, you might think that Communities In Bloom is something you can’t participate in. We’re here to let you know that’s not the case though! Let’s take a moment to break down what this competition is, and how we can participate.
What is Communities In Bloom?
Communities In Bloom is a non-profit organization that encourages both environmental improvement and beautification in towns and cities across Canada. Communities that participate are evaluated on the following sectors:
- Environmental Action
- Floral Displays
- Heritage Conservation
- Landscaped Areas
- Urban Forestry & Trails
“Environmental Action pertains to the impact of human activities on the environment and the subsequent efforts/achievements of the community with respect to: policies, by-laws, programs/best practices for waste reduction or landfill diversion, composting sites, landfill sites, hazardous waste collection, water conservation, energy conservation, and environmental stewardship activities under the guiding principles of sustainable development pertaining to green spaces.”
This one is pretty straight forward: How do we take care of our city and maintain that we are taking care of the environment? This includes recycling programs, clean-up days, conservation programs for water and energy, and composting initiatives. Last year, Brockville did quite well in this section, with a 79.3% final mark. In the past year, Brockville has taken on new projects as well, so hopefully, our mark will increase this year.
“Floral Displays evaluates efforts of the municipality, businesses, institutions and residents to design, plan, execute, and maintain floral displays of high quality standards. Evaluation includes the design/arrangements of flowers and plants (annuals, perennials, bulbs, ornamental grasses, edible plants, water efficient, and pollinator friendly plants) in the context of originality, distribution, location, diversity/balance, colour, and harmony. This evaluation pertains to flowerbeds, carpet bedding, containers (planters), baskets, and window boxes.”
This is the section we all might think of first when thinking of Communities In Bloom. The judges want to see beautiful arrangements everywhere! Even to those living in condos and apartments, you’re encouraged to get into to spirit of things by having baskets, window boxes, and planters. Last year, Brockville scored a 82.9%, which is great, but as a city, we can do even better this year.
“Heritage conservation includes efforts to preserve natural and cultural heritage within the community. Preservation of natural heritage pertains to policies, plans/actions concerning all elements of biodiversity including flora/fauna ecosystems and associated geological structures/formations. Cultural conservation refers to the heritage buildings, monuments, memorials, cemeteries, artifacts, museums and intangible elements such as traditions, customs, festivals and celebrations. The participation of groups such as historical societies and conservation groups are considered.”
This one is an easy one for us here in Brockville – keep our heritage alive and vibrant. This doesn’t mean just covering the basics like the Brockville Tunnel and Fulford Place, but we should be embracing every part of our heritage. So much of our city is covered in history, it doesn’t take much to find something worth showing off. Brockville scored a 79.3% last year, but with a city like Brockville, it should be easy to bring our mark up with a little attention to some of our hidden gems.
“Landscaped areas included planning, design, construction and maintenance of parks/green spaces suitable for the intended use and location on a year-round basis. Elements for the evaluation include: native/introduced materials, balance of plants/materials and constructed elements, appropriate integration of hard surfaces/art elements, and use of turf/groundcovers. Landscape design should harmonize the interests of all sectors of the community. Standards of execution and maintenance should demonstrate best practices, including quality of naturalization, use of groundcovers and wildflowers along with turf management.”
This section is important. Essentially, it’s what connects everything together, focusing mostly with Floral Displays and Urban Forestry and Trails. Landscaping doesn’t mean just making an area pretty – it has to be functional as well. Do your floral displays show off your heritage home? Is your local playground still safe and tidy? How can we make things better for our community? Last year, Brockville got a 77.5% in this sector, but with a bit of extra work and effort, we can improve our mark.
“Tidiness includes an overall tidiness effort by the municipality, businesses, institutions and the residents throughout the community. Elements for evaluation are parks/green spaces, medians, boulevards, sidewalks, streets (municipal, commercial, industrial or residential properties) ditches, road shoulders, vacant lots, signs/buildings, weed control, litter clean up (including cigarette butts and gum) graffiti prevention/removal, and vandalism deterrent programs.”
This one is clear as a bell. All this effort to make beautiful gardens and show off our history is nothing if we have disposable coffee cups and cigarette butts all over the place. Don’t litter, maintain your yard, and make sure we don’t let vacant spaces fall to the wayside. Brockville was actually recognized last year in our efforts in this category, receiving a provincial award and scoring an 81%. We can keep putting that effort in and continue to improve that score!
Urban Forestry and Trails
“Urban Forestry & Trails includes the efforts of the municipality, businesses, institutions and residents with regards to written policies, by-laws, standards for tree management (selection, planting, and maintenance) long and short term management plans, tree replacement policies, pollinator friendly tree selection, tree inventory, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), heritage, memorial and commemorative trees. Standards for trail management include; trail types, signage, risk management, policies, accessibility, surfacing, and promotion.”
This sector is all about making things green. We want to make sure that Brockville continues to be a thriving community that will last for generations to come. That includes being nature friendly and making sure we are taking care of our trees and the Brock Trail. Last year, this section was our lowest score with a 75.4%, so we’re really hoping that improving this section will help make sure that we get the 5-Bloom score!
With spring finally upon us, there are lots of opportunities to help influence the scores in Brockville’s favour, so make sure you get out there and help with the Communities In Bloom project! To learn more, check out the Communities In Bloom Brockville Facebook page.