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Jasper impresses Communities in Bloom judges


Jasper’s Communities in Bloom committee hosted this year’s judges July 27. Back row, from left to right: Gloria Kongsrud, Pattie Pavlov, Ted Zarudny, Lorna McIlroy, Gerry Lettner and Deb Bottomley. Front row, from right to left: Carol Smith, Colleen Green and Shannon Greer. | N. Veerman photo

Jasper’s community spirit shone through, July 27, as the international Communities in Bloom judges toured the town.

“That was the best part,” said Lorna McIlroy, who has judged Jasper once before in 2007. “That was a very good judging experience, too, and a lot of the people I met then I got to see again now, but I did notice more of a feeling of community involvement and more pride in the community then I remember from eight years ago. It’s very impressive.”

Ted Zarudny—who had never before stepped foot in Jasper—agreed.

“We’ve gone to a lot of communities over the years and this is probably one of the top ones for people showing the pride that they have within the community.

“It made our judging tour of the community even more special for us.”

Communities in Bloom is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement.

Jasper has been competing at different levels within the annual competition for nearly a decade and has been recognized on both the provincial and national levels and has spent the last three years vying for the international title.

This year the community is competing against Ahoghill, Ireland; Estes Park, Colorado; Stettler, Alta.; and Trail, B.C., although according to McIlroy, each community is really competing against itself.

“We’re not judging each community against one another, we’re judging each community as to what they’re doing with what they have.”

The judges rate communities on six criteria: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays, all while considering the community’s involvement within each category.

This year’s judges—Zarudny from Orangeville, Ont. and McIlroy from Grande Prairie, Alta.—came to town Saturday, July 25 and embarked on their Communities in Bloom tour Monday, July 27.

The tour stopped at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives, Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge, the community garden, the cemetery, the wastewater treatment plant, and numerous other locations throughout the town.

And along the way, the judges met local characters who shared history and stories about the community. Ron Stanko provided the history of the Mile Zero Rock, Greg Van Tighem talked about his efforts to raise funds for the MS Society of Canada through his long distance bike rides, Parks Canada’s Rogier Gruys talked about Jasper’s designation as a dark sky preserve, all while Neil Prather acted as the day’s tour guide.

Although he couldn’t pick a favourite stop, Zarudny said he was really impressed by the community garden.

“The one thing that was really unique to me was your community garden. I’ve never seen a community garden put between a mainstreet and railway lines.”

McIlroy agreed, pointing out how much she enjoyed the personal touches within each plot.

“So often community gardens are just four-by-eight, four-by-eight, four-by-eight, but the gardeners have added these creative touches—people are encouraged to be creative with their plots.”

Zarudny said he was also really impressed with Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge.

“Maybe because we’re getting a little older,” he said with a laugh, “but the seniors’ lodge, it was absolutely great. They should be so happy to be in a seniors’ home like that.”

After their visit in Jasper, the judges were off to Ireland to judge another community.

Winners of the national and international categories will be announced in Kamloops, B.C. during the National Symposium on Parks and Grounds from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.

Members of Jasper’s Communities in Bloom committee will attend the symposium in hopes of coming home with the top prize.

Nicole Veerman

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