The town of Outlook is looking to ‘bloom’ once again and rank itself among the best in the province after entering back into the Communities in Bloom program.
Communities in Bloom is a provincial and national program that recognizes community participation in projects involving beautification, heritage, and environmental awareness. It’s seen as a great opportunity for communities to generate civic pride and local participation, while gaining recognition across the country. Participants are judged on the quality of the municipality's green spaces, diversity and originality of its landscaping, general tidiness, environmental awareness, heritage, and the level of community involvement.
Recreation Director Jordy Jones believed it was time for Outlook to jump back into the program after sitting out for the last three years, even if it was just to gain some valuable insight and understand where the town could improve for future judging.
“There were some that thought we weren’t ready to enter again, and understandably so,” said Jones, in an email to The Outlook. “We hadn’t been there in three years, we had a new recreation director and facility manager, and a new council was in since the previous time we entered, so how could we know where we matched up?”
To get Outlook’s proverbial feet wet once again, it was able to benefit from a category that Communities in Bloom has designed for towns and villages looking to get back into the program.
The Novice division allows a municipality the same opportunities as regular Communities in Bloom evaluations, except you’re able to choose three of the six categories that you’re evaluated on, and it is looked at as more of a community workshop than a straight evaluation. Of the categories, which consist of Tidiness, Landscape, Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Urban Forestry, and Floral Display, Outlook chose to enter into Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation and Urban Forestry, wanting to learn and know the challenges ahead instead of entering into categories that the town can more easily control.
“We felt that Tidiness, Landscape, and Floral Display are all things that we can measure, have under control, or at least have an understanding of where we sit, and we wanted to find out about the most challenging aspects instead of just learning about what we do well,” said Jones.
In entering those categories, Jones said the results were hugely positive for Outlook.
“We earned 4 blooms out of 5,” said Jordy. “This is incredible as in 2015, we only got 2 blooms and our entry this year was more of a measuring stick than anything. We had 2 calls for volunteers at the arena and I was the only person to attend so it became clear that it would be a lot of work on my table! With the help of my staff, public works, and council, we got the town ready for the judges in August and toured them around town culminating with a sandwich and coffee down at the golf course deck to overlook the river and discuss the tour. The judges raved at how immaculate and natural our lagoon was and loved the changes we had made to the four-way stop to give off a better ‘first impression’ to tourists. Their most impactful suggestion was to look into getting a ‘Tree Maintenance Program’ in place as our forage is all so old and full that it will not last forever. I will be working to gather more research on these programs in the near future and hope to implement one in the coming months.”
Jones said the feedback from Communities in Bloom helps places such as Outlook realize how well any community is faring among others.
“Our feedback was great to hear as sometimes you need an outside voice to realize how well as a town we do,” he said. “The judges noted that many lawns and yards are immaculate and that it reflects well on the town when residents are taking that much pride in their homes as well. We got a lot of fresh ideas to look into for 2019 and we hope to enter again, but this time in the competitive division.”
As Outlook looks to get more competitive in the Communities in Bloom program this year, Jones is looking for committed volunteers to help make it happen. If you feel like helping to make Outlook stand out even more, you can contact Jordy by phone or email and a volunteers meeting may be set up soon. Contact Jones at (306) 867-9555 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.