The District of Sooke is a BC Community in Bloom!
Sooke Receives Communities in Bloom’s Highest Honour
Sooke, BC – September 26, 2011
The District of Sooke has received the highest possible honour at the BC Communities in Bloom Awards and Conference held September 23 – 25 at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort and Conference Centre. The conference, which focused on how to improve a community's bloom-rating, was attended by 55 delegates from communities throughout the province.
In July, Sooke was evaluated by the two trained judges on the eight program criteria of: Tidiness, Environmental Awareness, Community Involvement, Natural & Cultural Heritage Conservation, Tree/Urban Forest Management, Landscaped Areas, Floral Displays, and Turf & Groundcover. The Communities in Bloom judges travelled through our community, with municipal staff highlighting various new and innovative improvements to our town.
Communities in Bloom is about people, plants and pride in the community and Sooke wowed the judges with the many improvements Sooke has made in these areas since the judging last year. Sooke has competed for this honour since 2008 and has improved its score every year to ultimately achieve the 5-Bloom rating. "With such strong proponents of the Communities in Bloom program working to make this community great, the future is very bright for Sooke" said community judges Rea Smith and Shirley Culver.
Communities in Bloom is not just about flower baskets -- the judges applauded the efforts of our community’s environmental leaders including T’Sou-ke Nations, Sunriver Allotment Gardens, Carrington Place, Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society, and the Woodland Creek development. They applauded the tidiness of our town, upgrades to the landscape at Evergreen Centre and the new Prestige Hotel. The judges gave special mention to the 25th Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show as it showcases the region’s artistic talents and is an amazing feat of volunteerism.
Communities in Bloom Participation
In 2006, District of Sooke Council recognized the many benefits of the Communities in Bloom program; to explore ways to improve the quality of life for the community, to showcase our beautiful community, and to increase our community profile. The CiB program in Sooke has blossomed from 2 blooms in 2007 to 4 blooms in 2010.
The program is NOT all about flowers, however. It is a rating system based on:
- Tidiness Effort
- Environmental Awareness Community Involvement
- Natural Architectural Heritage Preservation
- Trees/Urban Forestry Management
- Landscaped Areas
- Floral Displays
- Turf and Ground Cover Areas.
Much of the District of Sooke’s strategic planning and operational programs contribute to its participation in the Communities in Bloom program:
- Since 2006, incorporated many of the CiB program objectives in policies and objectives; ie. Official Community Plan, Downtown Revitalization, street trees bylaw, roads, boulevard and parks maintenance contracts, etc.
- The Parks and Trails Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Town Centre Plan, Sustainable Development Strategy, Accessibility & Inclusiveness Study, Tourism Action Plan;
- The District of Sooke became the first community in British Columbia to complete the Liquid Waste Management Plan for Rainwater which provides strategies for the long-term management of rainwater;
- The Official Community Plan’s guiding principles speak to a community that encourages sustainable growth while maintaining significant park, rural and agricultural areas for future generations. The overriding goal of the OCP is to build a more complete community where residents can “live, work and play” while still maintaining the character of our town that makes is so special;
- Partnered with the Sooke Region Museum, the Sooke Chamber of Commerce, Sooke Food CHI and other community groups for several events and projects to improve the community’s awareness of, and encourage participation in, the CiB program, for example, Food CHI community gardens projects and in 2010 the expansion of the historic “Flow Line” and “Mill Site” projects, the Juan de Fuca Salmon Enhancement Society’s Charter’s Creek Facility and the Sun River Allotment Gardens;
- Appointed the Corporate Officer as liaison to the Sooke CiB Committee and provided municipal support, both sponsorship and funding, for all CiB projects;
- In 2009, became a member of “Pitch-in Canada” and developed ongoing program with T’Sou-ke Nation and the Sooke Moon Community Group volunteers;
- Participated in the 2010 Olympic/Paralympic Games through involvement with the Ozone – BC Community Street Program in Richmond with Sooke Region Tourism Association, Sooke Volunteer Fire Department and Sooke Rotary;
- Provided funding for several community improvement projects; ie. Expansion of the “Welcome to Sooke” landscape and improvement of the urban forest at the new BC Transit Park and Ride;
- Applied for and received grant funding for community improvement projects including the Spirit Square.