Communities in Bloom celebrates not just beautiful gardens, but also historic buildings and community involvement. Judges visited City Hall and other rejuvenated spaces while giving a “Friend Evaluation” of Wetaskiwin.

Communities in Bloom celebrates not just beautiful gardens, but also historic buildings and community involvement. Judges visited City Hall and other rejuvenated spaces while giving a “Friend Evaluation” of Wetaskiwin.

Cultivating community with a BOUQUET of beautiful gardens!

Wetaskiwin has blossomed in the last few years, thanks to hard work by many in the community to tidy, groom and beautify some of our parks and historic spaces. With so much to be proud of, Tyler Bailer from the City of Wetaskiwin spearheaded a project to reconnect with Communities in Bloom.

“The City had participated in Communities in Bloom about a decade ago, but now felt like a great time to restart and inspire more community involvement,” he says.

Bailer formed a committee with Karen Aberle from the Heritage Museum and community ambassador Carol Neilson. Communities in Bloom has both competitive and non-competitive categories, and for their first year back the committee opted for the non-competitive category so they could gauge community interest. Non-competitive communities still welcome judges from across Alberta to conduct an evaluation, but the “Friend Evaluation” feedback doesn’t include a score.

“Communities in Bloom celebrates more than just flowers. There are six categories: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, and floral displays. It’s a way to bring attention to the many things our community and other committees are already doing, and celebrating that engagement,” Bailer says.

Bailer and the other committee members organized a show-stopper tour when the judges visited the community in August. Jubilee Park, the water tower and peace cairn, Ashoro Park, City Hall, and By-the-Lake Park all featured prominently in the tour, showing off areas that have ‘bloomed’ thanks to the dedicated work of the City’s parks department. Wetaskiwin will receive feedback from the judges later this autumn.

Gardens We Share

Inspired by Wetaskiwin’s tagline “the City we share,” the Communities in Bloom committee created a Gardens We Share program to build community and celebrate some of Wetaskiwin’s master gardeners.

Bailer and the Communities in Bloom committee picked the first two gardens and connected with those community members. They sent in photos and fun facts about their gardens, and Bailer featured them on the City of Wetaskiwin Facebook page.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the community engagement, it’s been great!” Bailer says.

Featured gardens get to show off a Gardens We Share sign for a week, and then it’s up to them to nominate another deserving community member.

“I really wanted this to be community led and community driven, so it’s been great to have so much engagement.”

To help out, get involved with one of the many groups already working to improve Wetaskiwin or reach out to Bailer and the Communities in Bloom committee at tyler.bailer@wetaskiwin.ca to drop in on a meeting and learn more.

FURTHER READING: Urban food forest to grow in Wetaskiwin’s Montgomery Park

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