As you walk through the streets of Sooke you may notice potted flowers and beautiful signage outside businesses, sculptures, clean boulevards, and even photographs covering utility boxes.
This is because the community works together throughout the year to strive for the most beautiful town possible, thanks to a local initiative called Communities in Bloom.
A few years ago, Sooke decided to get involved in the national CIB program., and for months in advance, local businesses and residents volunteer their time to tidy up the streets, plant flowers, and get the town ready for when the judges come to tour Sooke. This year, the judges are here July 16.
Once the judges are toured around with a municipal representative, they give Sooke a detailed score sheet saying what they liked, and things the community can improve on for the next year. They judge on six criteria: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays. They also evaluate municipal, business and institutions, residential and community involvement.
Sooke Coun. Brenda Parkinson said some things Sooke highlights to the judges is all the nature surrounding us, including forests and beaches, our clean downtown core, the excellent amount of volunteerism in the community with more than 100 volunteer organizations, future projects upcoming in Sooke such as new developments, parks, trails, and memorial benches, and Sooke’s own flower, the monkey-flower called Mimulus sookensis.
Mimulus are called monkey-flowers because some species have flowers shaped like a monkey’s face.
In previous years, the judges were also able to stop by the Sooke Community Fine Arts Show, Sunriver Community Gardens and the Sooke Region Museum, as well as see the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra perform.
— SookeCa (@SookeCa) July 3, 2018
“The Communities in Bloom program is an excellent opportunity to promote the landscaped and natural beauty of Sooke”, says Mayor Maja Tait.
“Sooke’s participation also allows us to come together with community organizations, business owners and individuals to celebrate the many progressive environmental, beautification, and cultural enrichment activities of our community.”
Sooke has received the highest rating of “5 Blooms” for the last four evaluation years and organizers are optimistic the judges will again be impressed with the community pride that is evident in local initiatives.
“Community in Bloom is just a fun thing to take part in, and I like that it brings everybody together,” Parkinson said.