Open House Kick Starts CiB Season
Andrew Exelby spoke about how to prune trees without harming them.
By Craig Baird
The hall was packed, the treats were served, the coffee was hot, and the questions were frequent at the official kick-off to the Communities in Bloom season for Gull Lake. The CiB Open House, organized by the Town of Gull Lake and the Communities in Bloom Committee, offered residents the chance to not only learn more about what CiB was all about, but to learn about what you should and shouldn’t do when pruning a tree as well.
On hand was CiB Co-ordinator Andrew Exelby, who is also the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Consultant for Parks and Open Spaces.
The presentation began with an explanation of why CiB was such an important undertaking for a community.
“It is about community involvement,” Exelby said. “Communities in Bloom assists in building a tight-knit community through partnerships and public involvement.”
Exelby also had high praise for Gull Lake.
“It is encouraging to see the work you are doing.”
Gull Lake took part in Communities in Bloom for the first time last year as an Evaluated Friend. This was not a competitive category, but it allowed Gull Lake to get its feet wet for the competition. This year, Gull Lake is competing against similar-sized communities for top honours in the province.
According to the presentation, benefits include increased tourism, increased pride in the community, more participation from residents in community matters, an information exchange with other communities, media promotion, national recognition, and year-round projects that benefit the community.
Gull Lake scored Two Blooms last year, which meant a score of 55 to 63 points. One more point and Gull Lake would have finished with Three Blooms, which is for a score between 64 to 72. In order to reach Five Blooms, a community needs a score of 82 or higher. Once a community hits Five Blooms, it can compete on the national stage where the competition is much tougher.
“A Five-Bloom provincial community can expect to go down to Three Blooms their first year in the national competition,” Exelby said.
Exelby also brought up how participating in Communities in Bloom can help a variety of areas in a community. Using Gull Lake as an example, he brought up the judge’s recommendation regarding the highway going through town.
“Having the highway going through a residential area instead of commercial is not a good idea,” Exelby said. “Recommendations can be good ideas. They are observations by people who are not regularly visiting your community.”
Importance of Trees
Andrew Exelby demonstrates how to properly remove an unwanted branch.
Exelby spoke of the various areas that communities are judged, which include tidiness, environmental action, urban forestry, floral displays, and landscape. Of all the categories, floral gets the most attention but is counted with the least amount of points. Exelby also pointed out the importance of trees in the community and how methods can be used to save them.
“A 60-year-old spruce tree can be a heritage property,” Exelby said.
New for this year in the Provincial level of Communities in Bloom is an updating of population categories, less paperwork and the opportunity for communities and judges being presented with a mock evaluation itinerary. Communities in Bloom, on the national level, will also be promoting a CiB week this year, sometime in May or June.
Finishing off his CiB presentation, Exelby, once again, brought up the importance of CiB for a community.
“The evaluation is a health check-up for your community.”
Exelby then spoke on caring for trees in the community and stated that most of the trees in southern Saskatchewan are planted trees, and many of those are reaching their life expectancy.
“Trees are assets, they should be valued as one,” Exelby said.
Exelby, who has a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Management, went through the benefits of trees in a community, including as wildlife habitats, wind shelters, and more.
He also brought up how topping, lifting and improper pruning can damage a tree’s health down the road.
“What you do today could cause the death of a tree five years later,” Exelby said.
Following his presentation, Exelby took those who attended around to various trees in the area to show how to properly care for them.
Lea Stevenson took a moment to talk about some of the projects being planned for Gull Lake this year.
In addition, Lea Stevenson with the Town of Gull Lake showcased some of the things that are being done this year. One project is the painting of the north side of the Elks Hall, which will feature a mural of a history picture painted by local students. A historic colour will also be chosen for the building along with black trim, a common theme throughout the town this year.
There is also the banner project, in which 17 poles will have banners painted by local residents hung on them. The community garden and xeroscaping project will also continue.
Residents can adopt an area to care for and/ or sign up for the Odd Job Squad, giving whatever time they can. Sign-up is available at the town office.
The block competition will be per yard this year, with four categories including curb, floral, and backyard.
During the week of April 21, the week of Earth Day, there will also be a cemetery cleanup and a backyard cleanup for all residents.