Friday, July 29, 2016

Communities in Bloom judges visit "unique" Pincher Creek

Toni Lucas - Communities in Bloom (CIB) international judges Evelyn Alemanni and Gaétan Deschênes visited Pincher Creek Monday July 25, making stops at many locations of interest in their journey to deciding which is the best Communities in Bloom (CIB) - Small Category in the International Category. We're contending with 5 other communities for the title including a community in Croatia, and one in Italy. They finished their official visit with a dinner for 50 people at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village (KBPV), attended by a number of local dignitaries and representatives from organizations including members of the Communities in Bloom committee, Pincher Planters, and the Oldman Rose Society of Southern Alberta. There were speeches from Town of Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg, MD of Pincher Creek Reeve Brian Hammond, Organizer Diane Burt Stuckey, and judge Evelyn Alemanni.

(CIB) international judges Evelyn Alemanni and Gaétan Deschênes

The seed for local CIB involvement started with a planting group organized circa 1996 to raise community pride in the wake of the 1995 flood.  This evolved to become the Pincher Planters. The town of Pincher Creek has been involved with Communities in Bloom since 2000 and won at the National level in 2009, and National Class of Champions, Small category in 2015.

Communities in Bloom is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement and the challenge of a national program, with focus on enhancing green spaces in communities. (from the CIB website)
At Town council chamber

The day started off in Town Hall Chamber where the two judges met with 25 people. They were given a thorough briefing of the town of Pincher Creek. Some of the topics discussed during this meeting included history, economics, facilities, community organizations, sports and recreation, events, partnerships, and the day to day operations and initiatives which have being done by the Town. In short, an overview of the past, present and projected future of the Town in a variety of areas which may be of interest to the judges. They mark for tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, and floral displays.

Afterward the judges were given a tour of the town to get a chance to see first hand some of the points of pride, and inner workings of the town. In addition to various flowerbeds, parks, schools and playgrounds, cemeteries, and walking trails, the two viewed the murals and silhouettes, signs, industrial areas, and the water treatment facility.

At the Cenotaph Park the two met with local media and shared a bit of their journey.  Both  used the word "unique" while describing Pincher Creek.

Gaétan Deschênes  has 10 years of judging experience and was thoroughly impressed at the number and dedication of the volunteers who work to improve the area in such a wide variety of ways.  He added that each of the communities in this category are the crème de la crème.

Evelyn Alemanni has 14 years judging experience in 162 towns in 11 countries.  She explained, "We judge each town against its own potential. What do they do with what they have? Then we assign points based on that. So, you're really are not competing against anybody else.  The competition level is much more intense, because every town that is in the international competition has to win at the nation level, first."  As Pincher Creek was the last stop, she could share the all the communities have been pleasant and helpful, including making sure there were appropriate translators where required.

Dinner at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village

At the wrap up dinner held at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village Diane Burt-Stuckey read an article on how to beautify your property and improve your green space, published in the Pincher Creek Echo in 1906. After reading the biographies of both judges which underlined they are respected gardeners, and authors on the subject of gardening. Deschênes with a long history of journalism at Radio Canada, and Alemanni has been actively involved in municipal level politics. Stuckey said "They know what goes into this. It's not just a pretty flowerbed or an interesting museum, understand what goes into the background of all the work." "We are very honored to have such prestigious judges with us with, and wealth of experience and background."

Town of Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg

Mayor Don Anderberg thanked the many volunteer organizations, and town staff who worked tirelessly to make everything ready for the visit, and to improve the area. He said both of the judges "seem very knowledgeable, and very gracious."

MD of Pincher Creek Reeve Brian Hammond
Reeve Brian Hammond reminded everyone of the flood of 1995 and how the Pincher Planters came about through that tragedy. "I speak for my colleagues around the MD council table; We do paricipate in financial support for this organization, but it doesn't compare to all the things that go in on a volunteer basis."

Judge Evelyn Alemanni 

Evelyn Alemanni spoke on behalf of both judges, "You have a remarkable place to live. In all the towns I have visited I have never seen a place that had prairies, mountains, fabulous have it all here. You are really, really fortunate." Alemanni reminded everyone the process of previous wins which got us to the point where we were eligible to compete in this category. "It's all that you do that comes together to make you National Champions, and qualifies you to compete internationally. you should be so proud of yourselves for reaching the international level of competition. Not many towns get to do that." She invited anyone who is interested to attend the Communities in Bloom National and International Symposium & Awards Ceremonies in Regina Oct. 27-29 where the winners will be announced.

Here is the small linked list of beautiful communities in our category:

Sveti Martin Na Muri, Croatia

Local history books on display

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