District of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation celebrate beauty
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But judges Evelyn Alemanni and Jim Baird have the experience and knowledge to make a respected observation of what beauty is, as well.
Alemanni and Baird arrived in West Kelowna July 24 to tour the area as part of the Communities in Bloom competition.
The program is geared at giving communities a sense of pride and accomplishment, while also giving advice on areas that could use improvement.
"We look at towns of the same population category across the country. We basically look at three areas: Horticulture, environment and heritage. Then we look at community involvement: Municipal, commercial and residential," said Alemanni.
West Kelowna was the first stop on Alemanni and Baird's four-city tour. Next up is Mission, B.C., then Fort Erie, ON and finally Conception Bay South, NL.
Alemanni was in West Kelowna five years ago and said that she has seen "amazing changes" since then.
"The highways are better, there is more shopping, there are fewer billboards, it's very neat and clean, the roads are beautiful, there is almost no litter and there is almost no graffiti.
"Being a young town, West Kelowna has come such a long way."
Cities involved in the Communities in Bloom competition are given a bloom rating, with a top score being five blooms.
Over the past eight years, the district and WFN have maintained a perfect record of earning five bloom ratings every time.
Annette Beaudreau, recreation and culture supervisor, admitted that anything less than five blooms would be a disappointment.
"We don't go into every year expecting five blooms; we know we have to work for it," said Beaudreau.
"We're doing our best to make sure we maintain five blooms."
Beaudreau is in charge of touring the judges around various locations in the community.
When asked if the judges ever come across the seedy areas of the municipality, Beaudreau said: "One of the judges a few years back said to us, 'Don't try to hide your blemishes, we see them.' We direct the tour, certainly, but we don't hide things."
Along with the Communities in Bloom event, the district and WFN have created their own set of prizes for residents and businesses in the community.
Katherine Key won the category for most beautiful small garden.
She said she has never had any formal horticulture training.
"My mom started to get interested in gardening when she retired and she started to bring some plants to me. When I moved here from Calgary, I noticed how well the plants grew compared to how they grew in Calgary. That sort of inspired me," said Key.
"Every year my garden got bigger and I got bigger plans. I started reading magazines and going to the garden centre and trying to figure stuff out. For me that's most of the fun—trying new things."
All the most beautiful award winners were as follows:
Most beautiful strata - Sun Village
Most beautiful business, large - Gorman's Lumber
Most beautiful business, small - Craftsman Collision (Stevens Road)
Most beautiful residential garden, large - Linda Knowles
Most beautiful residential garden, small - Katherine Key
Most beautiful edible garden - Loraine Harding
Most beautiful tree - Pat and Kurt Zander
West Kelowna and WFN will find out how they did this year at the Communities in Bloom national awards ceremony in Edmonton Oct. 13.