Darlene Kalawsky says the Castlegar delegation to the Communities in Bloom Awards “woke up the theatre” when the winner of their category was revealed.
“You don’t know who is going to win, it’s very secretive,” the head of the local CIB committee says. “When they announced, we were screaming, we were so happy.”
The City of Castlegar won the award for the Class of Champions (Small) category at the awards, held last Saturday night in Strathcona, Alta.
The city’s flower displays and overall cleanliness impressed the judges, who came to the city in July.
The city was also cited for its volunteer participation in the Communities in Bloom program.
“They said they were extremely strong in volunteerism,” says Kalawsky. “We have an amazing core, and we should continue doing what we are doing.
The Communities in Bloom competition is an international event that challenges cities to take steps to make their communities more liveable and beautiful, while encouraging civic participation.
This year Castlegar was in competition with Trail and Ashcroft as well as Kinistino, Sask. Kalawsky says the competition was intense.
“Our team worked really hard over last three years, conscious of the fact that scoring at that level is very tight,” says Kalawsky. “But we are all very keen on what we are doing. I can give nothing but accolades to the city’s operation manager, Gary Sauer, and all the volunteers in our community. They are exceptional, it’s an absolutely amazing crew.”
But Kalawsky’s committee isn’t resting on its laurels. In a week they’ll be planting another 10,000 daffodils at the Highway 3 interchange, and building on its anti-litter and environmental stability programs.
But where does the committee go after winning the big national prize again?
“The judges suggested we go back to the International category,” she says. “We’ve elevated ourselves another level. Or we can go for the Circle of Excellence, which is for winners of the International Circle of Excellence.”
But she says that decision will rest with the whole committee, which will meet over the winter to plan the campaign for the spring.
“We are very excited for Castlegar, the city has been amazing, we have been in the program for 14 years now,” she says. “It’s a great program for our community and building pride in what we have here.”