Communities in Bloom award certificate (detail)
The Township of Madawaska Valley received a 5 Blooms rating and a special mention for Positive Community Partnerships on September 29 during the 2018 National/International Communities in Bloom Symposium and Awards Ceremonies in Strathcona County, Alberta. Madawaska Valley participated in the 1,501 – 5,000 population category along with Hanna AB; Merrickville-Wolford ON and Prescott ON.
Over the summer trained volunteer Communities in Bloom (CiB) judges evaluated the overall contributions of municipal council and departments; industry; businesses and the private sector, including volunteer efforts, in regards to the following criteria:
- Environmental Action
- Heritage Conservation
- Urban Forestry
- Landscape and Floral Displays
Following their evaluation of Madawaska Valley, volunteer judges Lorna McIlroy and Gaétan Deschênes wrote:
The 2001 amalgamation of Wilno, Barry’s Bay and Combermere, forming the Township of Madawaska Valley, has been successful as the result of positive partnerships. Similarly, partnerships have helped the Communities in Bloom initiative succeed and prosper. The CiB (a Committee of Council), Business Improvement Association, the Greening Committee, the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society, the Wilno Heritage Society, the Legion, Lions Club, the Opeongo Seniors and youth groups all work together to achieve their goals. Partnerships allowed this community to survive and prosper after the 2006 Combermere tornado and last year’s flood. To quote the CiB committee, “Together, we’re bloomin’ good!”
Madawaska Valley CiB Co-Chairs Debbie Marshall and Elser Lee Archer were excited about the 2018 result. Archer, who attended the Symposium in Alberta, said Madawaska Valley was recognized for its community involvement among national and international program participants from Italy, Hungary, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Slovenia and others. She said,
This honour was several years in the making. While the Township of Madawaska Valley has had some contentious issues during the past few years a decision was made to focus on one our greatest assets … “A spirit of community service.”
Gwynne Foster chats with CiB Judges Lorna McIlroy (L) and Gaétan Deschênes (R). (Photo Debbie Marshall)
Archer provided a list to indicate the scope of the community elements considered by the national judges. This included a community scrapbook highlighting volunteers’ work, a meeting with Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society volunteers, presentations about community response to the 2006 tornado and the flooding in 2017, the Kent Waddington and the Eganville Leader book portraying heroic efforts made by all to meet urgent community needs, Township staff and past/present members of Council sharing how emergency protocol and personnel worked together, a historical business tour, and meetings with members of the BIA regarding main street beautification. She said the judges were impacted by how much this small community has accomplished. She said,
I hope that our unified strength together reminds us as we move forward that we can build and accomplish even greater intrinsic rewards in good times and bad.
CiB Judges with business history tour guide Theresa Prince (Photo Debbie Marshall)
Marshall said her Thanksgiving message is:
Since registering for the Communities in Bloom program in 2016, we’ve come a long way thanks to residents and businesses in the Madawaska Valley. To achieve the highest level of 5 Blooms provincially in 2017 and be invited to participate in the National CiB is truly an honour. Then to go on and achieve a 5 Bloom Award with special mention for Positive Community Partnerships is something we should all be proud of. We have community spirit! We live in an area that is second to none in beauty. Sometimes we take this for granted, we should take a few moments now and then to appreciate our countryside and all the great things we have at our doorstep.
She thanked Elser Lee Faith Archer for attending the CiB National Symposium last week in Strathcona County, Alberta to promote the Valley not only within Canada, but to the U.S. and Europe as well. Marshall also added her thanks to many community members whose work is sometimes unrecognized:
- The Barry’s Bay BIA for their continued support with their hanging baskets and planters throughout Barry’s Bay
- The Township for support in watering the flowers throughout the summer and especially to the two summer students Reily Luckovitch and Chrissy Dombroskie who showed so much care
- Everyone in our communities who took the effort to showcase their businesses and residences, and welcomed our national judges from Alberta and Quebec
- Peter Fright, who took many hours out of his day to help us judge our local contest entries
- Representation on the local CiB committee from the Combermere and Area Recreation Committee, Madawaska Valley Public Library, Valley Manor, St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation, Water Tower Lodge and Zurakowski Park.
The judges were impressed with our area and continue to be impressed – one of our provincial judges has returned four times since coming here in 2017.
Archer said there was added value in attending the Symposium at Strathcona.
The National Symposium on Parks and Grounds in Alberta incorporated useful workshops on Cannabis in Municipalities and FireSmart Strategies that can help to inform approaches to these issues within the Township of Madawaska Valley. The National & International Communities In Bloom Awards were also incorporated into this National Symposium.