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Weyburn to compete in nationals again this year

After their first meeting of 2011 on Jan. 20, the Weyburn Communities in Bloom committee made the decision that Weyburn would run again this year in the national competition for the program.

After their first meeting of 2011 on Jan. 20, the Weyburn Communities in Bloom committee made the decision that Weyburn would run again this year in the national competition for the program.

The main reason for the meeting was to make this crucial decision. It was noted that Weyburn has been in the nationals for the last few years and, although the city has consistently received praises from the judges, there was some curiosity as to why Weyburn has never won a national title.

"We have some people who are questioning the fact that we don't win," Donna Hastings, appointed chairperson of the Communities in Bloom initiative in Weyburn, said at the beginning of the meeting.

Weyburn has received a five-bloom rating for the last number of years in the program. Each city that participates at the national level receives a score after the adjudicators visit and judge the city on six categories - tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays. Once the marks are tallied, the city is given a percentage which corresponds to a bloom rating. A rating of five blooms, the highest score possible, is reserved for cities who score 82 per cent or higher in their adjudication. Weyburn received a 84.9 per cent rating in 2010.

A number of the committee members suggested that having judges come to our community and grade it by its beautification effort is a benefit to Weyburn, regardless of whether Weyburn is a national winner or not.

"I just think that every time you get a clean set of eyes that come in and look around and make suggestions, whether we use them or not, I just think it's a good idea," Hastings commented.

"The fact that (the program) expands a little bit every year too (is important), like the community gardens and the workshops from last year. It may be best if we focus on continuing to change it, expand it and get better," Andrew Broccolo, city councillor commented. "There is an excitement about the program, but there is a sentiment out there in the community too that 'we do this year after year, but what is the payback'?"

Committee members agreed that they feel one of the reasons there may not be as strong support from the community could be because members of the community do not currently have access to the evaluation forms that the committee receives from when the Communities in Bloom judges visit to the city.
The evaluation form is a 10-page document which explains where the city excelled in terms of the criteria judges use to grade the city, as well as where the community needs to do more work and suggestions on what can be done to receive better grades in the next year.

Weyburn was strongly commended a number of times throughout the evaluation, especially in regards to the Bloomin' School Program, which was implemented for the first time last year. The school program is an excellent way to get the youth of the community involved in the efforts and the judges of the program saw this and were very impressed with this new initiative.

Aside from the program started at the schools, another new undertaking from the 2010 year was the Community Gardens, located by the Signal Hill Arts Centre and Tommy Douglas Centre. The gardens consisted of lots of soil that could be purchased for a minimal price by Weyburn residents who wished to have a vegetable or flower garden.

"We did just start the Community Gardens program and we're working with the schools and that's very new. I'd hate to see those things get chopped off at the ankles," Broccolo suggested.

"I think there's some soft benefits too (to entering the competition). Just the community pride, especially with new people coming into the community," Andria Brady commented. "I bet if we stopped doing everything and discontinued the gardens and the planters, there would be some backlash."

"I really think (the competition) is well worth it's value. It's probably one of the only things that I've taken part in that I believe it doesn't matter if you're three or 93 years old, you can feel as if you're a part of it," Hastings said.

"We did start some fairly significant things last year that we can certainly build on. As per the community gardens there is money slated for this year to expand that, so that's good," Coun. Nancy Styles, committee member, added.

Once a vote was administered, the committee came to the conclusion that Weyburn will run in the Communities in Bloom competition at the national level again this year.

With the most important business out of the way, the committee went over the success of the workshops they offered Weyburn residents last year, such as the water conservation and composting workshops. There was discussion as to what types of educational classes to offer residents this year as well as what time frame to offer the workshops in.

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