North Grenville was under the microscope last week when Communities in Bloom judges dropped by for three days of touring local cultural and community hotspots. Communities in Bloom is a non-profit charitable organization that aims to improve the aesthetic appeal of communities and promote friendly competition between Canadian communities to beautify their civic spaces. Far more than just about gardens and flowers, the judges evaluate communities based on such criteria as Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Tidiness, and Urban Forestry & Trails: a wider perspective on a community.
The two judges, Paul Ronan and Linda Robertson, made a wide-ranging tour of the community between Monday and Wednesday of last week, enjoying visits to the Ferguson Forest Centre, the Kemptville Campus, the North Grenville Giving Garden, and Rotary Park. There were also visits to a variety of local businesses, some residential gardens, and they enjoyed breakfast at the History Hub on Prescott Street on Tuesday morning. The Hub, which is the public face of the North Grenville Historical Society, hosted the judges and two members of the municipal staff, Hilary Geneau and Ashley Cuthbertson, who were guiding the Communities in Bloom project for the Municipality.
Paul and Linda, both very impressive individuals and showing genuine interest in what they were seeing and hearing, asked about how they many cultural and municipal bodies work together to create a vibrant community with a strong identity, one based on a strong historical foundation. They were particularly pleased to see how all parties interacted and the their overall community involvement. Paul Ronan, who has experience in integrating communities after amalgamation, asked about how that experience has been handled in North Grenville since 1998, and the way in which a rapidly growing municipality like ours has managed to maintain an identity in the three amalgamated historical communities.
Communities in Bloom is very focused on more than gardens and appearance, though that is key to their mandate. But the overall health and vibrancy of the places they visit is as important. Based on their evaluation, communities may be awarded ratings from one to five blooms, five blooms being the highest rating. As a result of their ranking, communities can move on to national and international competitions, or be eligible for special awards based on specific criteria, such as sustainability, biodiversity, or community involvement.