Oliver is Bloomin'

submitted by Betty Lou Trimmer Bahnsen
Communities in Bloom Co-Chair

At the BC Communities in Bloom Conference held in Hope BC on September 24 – 26, Oliver was awarded “Four out of Five Blooms”, recognizing a year of intensive landscaping and cleanup across the district. This is an astounding feat, as this is only Oliver’s first of two years in the provincial Communities in Bloom programme. This date also marks the anniversary of the idea to have Oliver participate in Communities in Bloom. What a way to commemorate a years work with four lovely Blooms!

The Oliver Community Arts Council is basking in the reflected glow. The arts council was asked by the Communities in Bloom (CIB) committee to provide some motivation  and excitement among Oliver residents by organizing a competition to boost interest in the CIB programme.  In the spring of 2010, the OCAC’s “Best Bloomin’ Garden Contest” was off and running. A small group of arts council members solicited sponsors, organized several categories for the competition, determined criteria for each award category, arranged for judging by the Oliver Heirloom Garden Club, and designed and presented the awards. Thanks to Best Bloomin’ Garden Contest chair Penny Ruddy, and committee Stephanie Salsnek, Brian and Jennifer Mapplebeck, and Dot Cranston for their hard work!  Thanks to John Salsnek and Linda Blaschuk for designing the charming trophy. Although we were only a part of the overall cleanup efforts across the municipality and regional district, the OCAC-sponsored contest got competitive juices flowing, and gave incentive to residents and businesses to get involved.

Initially, the Oliver Communities in Bloom committee had planned to be in the non-competitive category in the first year thus, using the opportunity of the judges’ visit and evaluation to learn and to build on their adjudication for the following year, at which time Oliver would enter into the competitive category. However, at the final meeting with the judges during their July 2010 visit to Oliver, it was the judges’ suggestion that we upgrade to the competitive category. They indicated that the community had done very well and would gain more public recognition with an award, in addition to reaping the benefits of an evaluation. The Oliver Communities in Bloom committee followed the judges’ advice  — with full awareness that most communities take several years to attain the full Five Blooms. It therefore came as a complete surprise that Oliver was acclaimed with Four Blooms after only one year.

The achievement of the “Four Bloom” status and the community pride associated with this award could not have taken place without the total involvement of the Oliver community. We are thank ful for the support of individual participants , our many partners and sponsors, the local politicians (Town and Area C), the business community who gave so generously in kind, the Osoyoos Indian Band, the Bahvsagar Sikh Temple Council, the many service and cultural groups, the media, the untiring efforts of the special employees of the Town of Oliver administrative staff and Public Works, together with the happy band of Oliver Communities in Bloom volunteers which brought about this great result.


Photo Credit: Patrick Reid


Want more information about the Communities in Bloom program? Here are some excerpts from the provincial CIB website (http://www.bccommunitiesinbloom.ca/)

All participating communities in either the national or provincial contests receive a rating of one to five ‘blooms’. All participants are promoted within BC and nationally, and are invited to attend the provincial Awards Ceremony which takes place in the fall, hosted by a different community each year. A top five bloom rating may result in an invitation to participate in the following year’s national program.

In addition to their rating, each BC CiB participant receives a comprehensive report, prepared by the judges (all qualified and experienced horticulturalists and specialists). This report reviews the particular features and projects in each of the eight criteria areas that the community has undertaken and presented. These criteria include tidiness, environmental awareness, community involvement, natural and cultural heritage conservation, tree/urban forest management, landscaped areas, floral displays, turf and groundcover. The judges offer constructive hints and recommendations for the following year.

Of course, all participants are winners with respect to increased civic pride, preservation of natural and architectural heritage, economic development, ehanced property values, decreased vandalism, improved environmental awareness, business development, increased tourism appeal, corporate relocations, new development, investment and general economic activity based on being more attractive, liveable communities!