Judging a town by its appearance is easy, but judging a town by what it is endeavoring to do is a lot more difficult. Sooke once again came away from the Communities in Bloom competition with five blooms.
This means a lot. It means the community is striving to maintain its small town appeal while encouraging sustainable growth with advanced environmental enhancement projects.
The Communities in Bloom (CiB) judges came to Sooke and were given tours of most of the places Sooke is proud of. The judges were squired about by Brenda Parkinson and CiB volunteers who are all part of the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on the Arts and Beautification. They drove by places such as: John Phillips Memorial Park, Charters Creek salmon Interpretive Centre, Whiffin Spit Park, Ayre Manor and Broomhill Play Park; and visited Mariners’ Village, the Sooke Community Hall and Ed Macgregor Park and the boardwalk. This impressed the judges. What they saw was a community trying hard to maintain tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays. Sooke attained 84.4 per cent resulting in five blooms.
“This gives good ideas on what needs to be done,” said Parkinson. “I’m so pleased we did so well.”
The judges also came up with ways Sooke could improve. They pointed out obvious upgrading that could be done to local landscapes like replacing broken pavers and tiles and discouraging signs made out of printed paper and tacking them to boards, trees and other landscape elements. Scores of other doable improvements were made by judges Heather Edwards and Catherine Kennedy. Overall they were impressed with Sooke’s efforts and mentioned the volunteers who are involved in every aspect of the community and the special events such as the Sooke Fine Arts Show and the Philly Fling, which helped in earning the five blooms.
Sooke won a Criteria Award for Heritage Conservation sponsored by the Provincial Capital Commission. What impressed the judges were things such as the murals at the community hall, Millennium Memorial Park, Woodside Farm, protection of Garry Oaks, heritage apple varieties being grown at Sunriver Community Garden. The business and cultural partnerships with the T’Sou-ke First Nation and the preservation of their culture was noted as well.