TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Vehicles pass the colourful flowers lining the boulevard dividing the northbound and southbound lanes of 18th Street in Brandon on Tuesday.
The city of Brandon hopes to solidify its place as a true "champion" of community beautification this week as it welcomes a pair of national Communities in Bloom judges for an official visit today and Thursday.
Vehicles pass the colourful flowers lining the boulevard dividing the northbound and southbound lanes of 18th Street in Brandon on Tuesday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Continuing its proud tradition of National Communities in Bloom involvement, Brandon is participating in the class of champions (evaluated) category this year.
Brandon was an overall National Communities in Bloom winner in 2000 and, as such, will be competing in the Class of Champions this year against four previous national winners: Calgary, Edmonton, Athabasca, Alta., and Stratford, Ont.
This marks the first year that National Communities in Bloom judges have visited the city since 2008, and community development manager Esther Bryan says the focus this year will be showing the judges how Brandon has developed, grown and improved.
"After taking a step back from the evaluated categories in 2009 and 2010 and then being forced to abandon our intent to be evaluated in 2011 when the high water event demanded our full attention, we are extremely excited to be back in the competition in the class of champions category this year," Bryan said.
"We were National Champions in the 20,001 to 50,000 population category in 2000 and we have received many, many awards and special recognitions since then.
"We have an amazing quality of life here in Brandon and we know that we can go toe-to-toe with larger urban centres like Calgary and Edmonton when it comes to community beautification. We are ready to prove that this week during the judges’ visit."
The national judges are Stephen King, a retired general manager of Environment and Parks from Elmsdale, N.S., and Steve Preston, who is retired from the City of Brampton’s Parks and Recreation Department in Ontario.
While here, King and Preston will tour the city with eight different evaluation criteria in mind: floral displays, landscapes, turf, urban forestry, community involvement, heritage, conservation, environmental awareness and tidiness.
"We have organized their visit in such a way that highlights each of the criteria and all of the different reasons why we feel Brandon is such an amazing community," Bryan said.
"Whether it’s the beauty of our private gardens, community gardens and hanging baskets, the energy of our revitalized Downtown Hub or the many environmental initiatives happening at the Eastview Landfill Site, Brandon will be putting its best foot forward this week."
With nearly three dozen specific locations on the agenda during the two-day tour, Bryan is urging all community members and businesses to do their part to keep their yards and sites looking their absolute best, as the judges may very well be passing through their neighbourhoods.
After the two-day visit wraps up, Brandon will have to wait until the fall to find out if it is a winner. The official honours will be handed out at the Communities in Bloom 2012 National Awards and Symposium Oct. 10-13 in Edmonton.
Last year, Brandon came away from the National Awards and Symposium in Quebec City with a Floral Displays Outstanding Achievement Award in the non-evaluated category. The city also received recognition for its work with community gardens and was one of the three top communities in the community of gardeners category.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 15, 2012