CIB judges arrive in Stratford this July

Stratford’s Communities in Bloom (CIB) advisory committee will be hosting the 31st national symposium here in the Festival City next year, but there is still a lot of work to do in between now and then.

The community has to prepare for this year’s competition, for one, with judges arriving in Stratford July 21 and leaving July 23.

“We’re just over, barely, two months away,” Coun. Brad Beatty said at the May CIB meeting. “So, it's a lot of work that needs to get done.”

Beatty explained judges tend to look at previous critiques from past judgements and see if those elements have been improved upon. In that sense, past comments about Stratford are the committee’s homework and will be areas they will want to tackle head-on, ahead of judges coming this year.

Stratford will be evaluated on eight criteria groups: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, turf and groundcovers, floral displays and community involvement.

“When judges come, they hit the ground running,” Beatty said, advising the committee that they should do the same.

CIB is a non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride and environmental responsibility through community involvement and beautification. It hosts national and international competitions in the various member municipalities that are a part of the organization.

Stratford has been involved in the Canadian competition since its inception. The late Ted Blowes, a former mayor, was instrumental in making the city one of the founding cities in Canada.

Stratford residents can participate in CIB in their own front yards. They can help by planting a garden, organizing a cleanup day in their neighbourhood, becoming a volunteer with the main charities, service clubs, organizations, schools and churches in the city, working with the city’s environmental groups in cleaning the city, and practicing the “three Rs”: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Next summer, Stratford will again have CIB visitors, albeit many more. It will host the Communities In Bloom National Symposium for the first time in more than 20 years.

Every year the national organization hosts an awards ceremony in a participating municipality, coinciding with the symposium. It is a space for officials and residents from across the CIB network to gather and be honoured with awards – and is also a chance to show off the host city to CIB’s representatives.

Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stratford Times