Town staff were busy last week preparing for the imminent arrival of Communities in Bloom judges who will be rating Ponoka in its return to the community beautification program after many years.
A whole day of touring was planned July 29 for the judges who will be presenting scores and suggestions to the town in September.
Wes Amendt, director of community services for the Town of Ponoka, said a large committee was organized for this competition. The town was not entered into the competitive part of the program but in the Friends program which Ponoka has joined, Amendt feels there is much to learn.
“Hopefully we can take your recommendations and apply those at budget time,” Amendt said to the judges.
The day consisted of visits to Lucas Heights — where the soccer pitch project is underway — Hudson’s Green Nature and Activity Centre, private homes, the waste transfer sites and water treatment lagoons and other areas of Ponoka. Judges look at every facet of the community and they base their recommendations on the total experience.
Linda Tomlinson and Gillian Evans, judges for Communities in Bloom, said because each community is different , their comments are based on how each town presents itself.
“The comments are far more valuable than the numbers because everything’s objective,” said Tomlinson.
She suggests investing time and money in the Communities in Bloom program is a way to attract new residents. Using the analogy of two stores side-by-side, Tomlinson said a person is more likely to shop in one that is clean and is presented well.
The Ponoka Stampede week is another example of how the town could entice visitors to return to town other than during the rodeo week. Tomlinson says if business owners and the community joins together to present the town well, people may return. “They’re going to come back by what they see in the town and how they’re treated.”
“If you have a goal and everyone’s working towards a goal, you have communication,” she added.
At its beginning, Communities in Bloom had 29 member municipalities, now there are 96 across the country, explained Evans. She says the comments take the longest to prepare as there is so much information to take in, but feels the program is a worthwhile investment.
“People have pride in their community. They work together in partnerships,” said Evans.
“A lot of communities from Alberta have become national (competitors),” she added.
The judges were invited to a community barbecue behind Town Hall to celebrate the grand opening of the Community Garden, curated by the Ponoka Jubilee Library, and finished the day off writing notes on their tour.