Blog #3 | Downtown Brockville DBIA

July 17, 2018
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Communities in Bloom Blog

Communities in Bloom Blog #3: Criteria for Judging

 

Lots of people who read “Communities in Bloom” think that it is an assessment of how “pretty” each community is, but very few people understand just what Communities in Bloom is, and why it is so important to communities like ours across the country. Luckily for them, the Communities in Bloom Brockville committee is here to shed more light on the competition, and educate our citizens on the perks of being a part of this great program. As stated in the first edition of the Communities in Bloom blog, the evaluation of each community is split up into six sectors. These sectors include; Environmental Action, Floral Displays, Heritage Conservation, Landscaped Areas, Tidiness, and Urban Forestry & Trails. Each of these sectors is further broken down into Municipal, Business & Institutional, Residential, and Community Involvement to help the judges fairly evaluate each aspect of the community. Each of the main sectors has specific requirements or measurables due to the differences from category to category, in this week’s blog, we’re going to break them all down. Enjoy!

 

Environmental Action:

“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.”

In a nutshell, Environmental action is exactly what it sounds like; which is how our community goes about maintaining our city, while still being environmentally conscious and responsible. Many people hear things like that and think “reduce, reuse, recycle” but being environmentally responsible is about more than just that, it involves other things like long-term planning, conservation (both water and energy) clean-up days, composting initiatives, etc. Last year, Brockville came in with a score of 79.3% in this sector (119/150) and with new programs this year, the score will likely improve after this year’s evaluation.

 

Floral Displays:

“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.”

To sum it up in a sentence, the judges look for original, eye-catching arrangements, that are sustainable and diverse throughout the city, however, there does need to be some cohesiveness between the arrangements. Last year Brockville’s score in Floral Displays was 82.9% (145/175) while we were pleased with that score, we’ve got new arrangements and programs this year to help improve it even further.

Heritage Conservation:

“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.”

Similarly to Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation is exactly what it sounds like; keeping Brockville’s heritage alive and prominent. Most people would hear the word heritage and automatically think of something like the statue and bust on Courthouse Avenue, the Fulford Place, or of course the Railway Tunnel, but Brockville’s heritage runs deeper than those spots. We house some great heritage in the city that some of the public has no idea has any historical relevance, things like the Sabre Jet (on Blockhouse Island) or The Mill restaurant downtown, or even places like Rotary Park or the Brockville Arts Centre, they all have history that run deep into the roots of Brockville. That is what Heritage Conservation is all about, making sure these artifacts and/or places are promoted as the parts of rich history that they are, while still being properly maintained and improved. Last year Brockville received a score of 79.3% (119/150) in the Heritage Conservation sector, and we are confident our score will be even higher for 2018.

 

Landscaped Areas:

“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.”

What this sector is all about is being the lynch-pin between the other sectors, tying in directly with both Floral Displays and Urban Forestry & Trails, as well as having an effect on the remaining sectors. Landscaping isn’t just about making an area pretty, it’s about integrating the area with other important parts of our community, whether it’s making heritage areas more prominent, or re-working a troubled area to help fix it up, Landscaped Areas ties the other sectors back in with what Communities in Bloom is all about; the improvement of our community.  Brockville came in with a score of 77.5% (155/200) in 2017 for Landscaped Areas, but with extra work put in, and some great improvements, we are primed to up our score in this year’s competition.

 

Tidiness:

“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.”

The Tidiness sector of evaluation is exactly what it sounds like, however similarly to the other self-explanatory sector names, Tidiness is about a lot more than just picking up garbage, or weeding. It factors in many things that people don’t even realise, things like maintaining the vacant lots (or in our case, turning it into a culinary garden) or the cigarette receptacles spread around the downtown core, and even the vandalism prevention all fall under the grand scope of tidiness. Brockville’s 2017 score in the Tidiness sector was a solid 81% (121.5/150) and we even received a provincial award for Tidiness. Although we were pleased with our award and score, we know that the extra effort that has been put in so far this year will propel us into an even higher percentage in this category.

 

Urban Forestry & 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.”

 

To sum that up for you, Urban Forestry & Trails is all about making our community green, and ensure that nature will be able to thrive in Brockville. Our community has made huge steps in the last few years on the trail side of this sector, adding in additions and perks to the Brock Trail, and also adding more active transportation infrastructure to our great city. As for the Urban Forestry side, Brockville has made some improvements and additions in each of the last few years, and is continuing to improve so we can become even more of a nature-friendly environment. Last year Brockville scored a 75.4% (132/175) which was our lowest percentage for any of the sectors. This year however, we are looking to improve that percentage so we can receive a 5-Bloom score from our judges.

 

We hope this gives you a bit more insight into the Communities in Bloom initiative, and maybe even gives you some extra motivation to get involved with us. We are always looking for more volunteers and committee members so feel free to contact us and learn more about Communities in Bloom! 

 

Click here for the next issue of the Communities in Bloom Blog series