Mayor Campbell attended this year’s Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association Gala Awards Ceremonies. Gull Lake was the winner of the 2016 Communities in Bloom Provincial addition for the category 501 to 1,000 population. Below is a summary of the 2016 Judges Evaluation:
Congratulations on a very successful year in the Communities in Bloom program! It was a pleasure to meet five members of your CiB’committee, which included members of town staff. lt is obvious that you have great cooperation between the Town of Gull Lake and the surrounding municipalities. Businesses in the area also contributed substantially to projects, in addition to the generous support of residents. Your volunteers are amazing! We lost count of the multiple committees that are struck to work on specific tasks around the community.
Gull Lake has done a great job of promoting the Communities in Bloom program and as a result you have a large following. There are many examples of this promotion: Yard of the Week posted on the Town’s Facebook and website, signage such as “Communities in Bloom at work here” to publicize a project, signage to honour winners in the Yard Proud competition, and signage to thank volunteers who take on the responsibility of maintaining a specific site. There are spring and fall events to thank volunteers. Next you might consider t-shirts.
One of the most recent CiB projects has been the Community Garden, Xeriscape and Orchard. This is an outstanding accomplishment! The last phase to add a gazebo and more fruit trees is indicative of ongoing planning and goal setting of the CiB in Gull Lake.
Your profile book shows good detail and pictures to document the progression of projects. Another addition would be to have all projects dated as to their start and finish.
We noted that many of the past recommendations from previous evaluations have been acted upon. Good work!
We hope to see Gull Lake continue to participate in the CiB program in the coming years. lt will be exciting to follow your progress!
TIDINESS (Scored 128 points out of 150 points)
The overall first impression was a tidy and weed free town. Bylaws are in place to support tidiness and a bylaw officer visits the community on a regular basis.
Sidewalks were assessed by an outside agency and repairs are planned for the most serious tripping hazards. Work will continue to repair all sidewalks over a number of years.
The town has made a huge investment in waste/recycle containers.
The waste management site is neat and monitored. Free disposal is available two weekends a year.
The cemetery committee and volunteers have done a great cleanup job on the grave covers and headstones.
Groups and individuals of various ages have made commitments to take care of designated spaces such as the War Memorial Park and the park at the north entrance to Gull Lake. Each space has a sign designating the care takers.
Paint would enhance the appearance of the museum. Continue with your painting projects in the downtown as they are making an outstanding difference.
Have a look at the signage in town. lt is important for visitors to be able to find the main street and core businesses/institutions/recreationalfacilities. You do have some great signs but others need some attention. For example the grocery store/pharmacy sign was noted to be in poor shape. Try to ensure consistent good signage throughout your community.
Make sure that there are bylaws in place to control the size of the memorial signs in Little Green on the Prairie community park. Memorial signs should be consistent in size, shape and color.
To advance in the goal of tidiness, further weed eradication of your community is recommended. Some examples are weeds by the long-term care facility and a few of the industrial buildings, dandelions gone to seed by the sports fields and weeds visible by the pocket park on Proton Street.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION (Scored 120 points out of 150 points)
New energy efficient lighting has been added to more facilities including the skating and curling rink and the Little Green Park on the Prairie. Lighting at the Senior Citizen’s Centre has been revised to be motion activated. Plans are to install LED lighting at the Elks Hall in a future project.
The compost depot has moved to the waste management site.
A liquid pool cover has been installed at the pool, which has become a wonderful energy saver exceeding expectations.
Arrangements have been made for removal of Freon from refrigerators and freezers at the waste management site.
New benches and tables are made out of recycled products. The new purchases of plant containers are all self-watering.
The garlic mosquito spray is reported to be working well.
The Town has ongoing water conservation rules for residential use of water.
lnformation leaflets concerning water conservation, recycling and composting is being sent out in utility bills.
Residents could contribute further to environmental action through use of rain barrels and compost bins in their yards. The town could encourage this through a rain barrel and/or compost bin program.
Consider an anti-idling bylaw in your community. We did note trucks by the hotel being left running while the owners were inside the building.
Mulching is a good tool for water conservation, which should be utilized to a further degree in your community.
The number of bikes we saw in town was impressive. Consider adding more bike racks especially at places where residents gather.
With all the current interest in local healthy food it would be good to stay open to the feasibility of resurrecting the farmer’s market if there is an interested person to spearhead
it. lt might increase the number of folks visiting Gull Lake from the surrounding area.
Heritage Conservation (Scored 117 points out of 150 points)
A Heritage Committee has been created to work on heritage properties with the Wong Guy’s Shoe Shop being the first large project.
Volunteers have spent hours repainting the fronts of older buildings and fences on Proton Street.
Murals document the history of the community and more are being planned.
Winterfest and Christmas Cove are good examples of wintertime traditions.
The decision to add a columbarium to the cemetery is very forward thinking. Another innovative project is the self-guided walking tour of the cemetery showcasing many local citizens. The cemetery directory is available onsite, online and at the town office.
The CiB garden with raised beds, hardy perennials/shrubs and fruit trees is a fine example of xeriscaping.
It might make sense to provide the self-guided walking tour leaflet at the cemetery if you can find a way to weatherproof it.
Consider recreating an app for your self-guided town heritage walking tour that includes audio. For those unable to walk/drive the tour due to disability or distance you could provide a hard copy that includes pictures as well as the written text.
The small garden at the museum could use some volunteer assistance! Perhaps someone might want to try some heritage seeds and plants our grandmothers used to grow.
Your community has made great strides in having your museum open for longer periods of time. lt is always a challenge to maintain the ongoing interest of residents if the displays and programming stay the same. Ensure that efforts are being made to rotate displays, introduce new displays, and create new activities at your museum.
URBAN FORESTRY (Scored 136 points out of 175 points)
The town has done a great job taking care of the current urban forest and has tree policies/ bylaws in place to protect the forest.
The town is planting “ahead” in anticipation of old trees being lost. They have an inventory of which trees are in the community and where they are planted. Specific trees such as cottonwood and Manchurian elms are not being planted. Residents need to obtain permission to deal with elm trees.
Trees have been planted along the edge of an empty lot next to the hotel for aesthetic value until the lot is re-purposed.
Residents are also very involved in planting trees with many taking up the offer of a free tree for their boulevard each year.
Make sure that you regularly update your tree policies and bylaws with special attention to new developments in the community. Some communities have a policy whereby each new residential lot must have a tree planted on it.
It is a wise investment to continue to plant trees throughout town in old and new areas.
Adding to your orchard yearly is also a good plan. Do this with great care as to what is hardy in your growing zone.
A few of the new trees were staked and mulched but many more are in need of this extra attention. ln a windy dry climate both staking and mulch are advantageous.
LANDSCAPE (Scored 156.00 points out of 200 points)
The gateway entrances are well planted and inviting.
Volunteers have done a wonderful job of “rebuilding” the football field.
It is commendable that two past town employees have been honoured, one having his name on a bench and the other having a grove of trees in his name.
The Little Green on the Prairie Community Park is particularly inviting with the benches, the playground and the minigolf.
The pocket park on Proton Street, with a fence, picnic table and floral display, is a great way to hide an unsightly lot.
There are wonderful examples of attractive landscaping throughout the community.
Once the CiB group has completed its current project (community garden, xeriscape and orchard) it is hoped that they will be able to spearhead some plantings of beds of perennial/shrub/annuals in other areas of the downtown, such as the War Memorial Park, in an empty lot or along the boulevard on Conrad Street.
The boulevard planting in front of the high school could use some attention, as it distracts from the area.
The brick pillars at the entrances to the Little Green on the Prairie Community Park varied in their appearance with one entrance having no plant material. This is a great area to try high impact plants which could include annuals, grasses or perennials. ldeally ptanting at all the entrances to the park should be consistent.
The industrial area might be encouraged to develop more attractive landscaping if they saw some practical examples, were offered boulevard trees, or participated in a competition for the most attractive site.
Consider introducing more variety into your Yard Proud Competition program. Maybe change it up from year to year so it continues to stimulate residents’ interest. Examples might be best herb garden, rose garden, bee friendly pollinator garden, shrub bed or lawn free yard.
Floral Displays (Scored 137 points out of 175 points)
Floral displays in the downtown were not as appealing as they could have been’ This is an area where it is important to have eye catching displays’
The plantings in the xeriscape garden were well planned and appear to be good choices for the area,
The “Plant Your Pot” night sounded very successful in multiple ways.
You have bought great planting containers and maintained the plantings with diligence but if you want your community to have a WOW factor the planting material must be chosen carefully. The general recommendation is to use three things in your containers: thriller, filler and spiller. Your color choice will be up to you but use high impact color for your filler. The thriller is the eye catcher, usually tall, the filler surrounds the thriller and the spiller cascades from the container. The thriller and filler should be colors that are opposite on the color wheel (analogous). One example is purple velvet petunia (filler)
with a hot pink geranium (thriller) and lime potato vine (spiller).
All your pots and baskets in the downtown should be consistent. lf each pot is planted differently, it is disruptive to the eye. High impact color throughout the community is very effective.
Consider introducing variety into your “Plant Your Pot” night. For example, planting a variety of theme pots such as herb pots, edible pots, succulent pots or bee friendly pollinator combinations.
Build on your idea of winter arrangements by encouraging more residents and businesses to join in. Consider using your CiB program of honouring the most attractive arrangements. A great idea is to have residents vote on their favorites as they do in the Yard Proud Competition.
The Town of Gull Lake scored 80% with 800 out of 1000 points awarded and was only 2 percentage points away from 5 Blooms.
Gull Lake Communities in Bloom Committee