Each May, Municipal World magazine shares a story from a Canadian municipality that has participated in the Communities in Bloom program. CiB is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to “fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility, beautification and to improving quality of life through community participation and the challenge of a national program, with focus on the protection and promotion of green spaces.”
The CiB stories reinforce that, just as every community is different, every Communities in Bloom experience is different, too. Of course, all communities will benefit, to varying degrees, from participating in the program … from the cooperative effort required; the beautification of neighbourhoods; the tourism potential; and so on.
However, each community will approach the various program components differently. Each will find its own way to build on the unique characteristics and strengths of the community – its plans, projects, and natural assets – to address the program components from a perspective that is distinctly local. The Town of Gravenhurst, featured in the May 2009 issue of MW, is certainly no exception.
Councillor Sandy Cairns, who is chair of Gravenhurst’s Communities in Bloom Committee, writes with passion about her community. She talks about the ways the town has used the program to highlight, for both visitors and residents alike, the things that make Gravenhurst a beautiful place to live and visit. (The gorgeous picture on our cover this month is taken in Sandy’s own backyard.)
But, we should not be misled to believe that Communities in Bloom is simply a beautification program. Far from it. As CiB board member Marc Lalonde tells our readers in his article “Communities in Bloom, Sustainable Development and Climate Change” (also in the May issue of MW), environmental issues have always played an important role in the program. CiB has used its experience to stay at the forefront of these issues, and has integrated many of them into the program.
Parks and green spaces, therefore, are much more than enjoyable places to while away the hours. These spaces can be critical assets in the municipality’s efforts to combat climate change and to create a more energy efficient and “green” community. Marc shares numerous examples of how municipal parks departments can take positive action on environmental issues. And, he points out that most, if not all, of these aspects are actually reflected in the evaluation grid for the CiB program.
Woven together, each unique CiB story is about more than a beautiful place to visit. Rather, each story contributes to a beautiful, green tapestry of the many efforts to build more livable communities across Canada.