PORT McNEILL – Council will not pay the Communities in Bloom application fee of $475 this year because of the other costs incurred by the town to support the program.
Councillors Aaron Frost and Shirley Ackland did not support the request at a special meeting Feb. 23 after hearing that the Town has expended about $25,000 in labour and materials over the past three years.
The councillors feared that paying the fee meant committing to staff and financial support for the program.
“I wasn’t opposed to paying the $475,” said Frost. “The reason for not supporting it is the mandating of our public works crew.”
That question had been raised by Ackland at an earlier meeting after the local Communities in Bloom chairperson Sharon Barratt made an appeal to council for their support. Barratt says the support of the municipality is optional.
“Not a required thing, each committee can do as much as they want. It’s not mandated,” Barratt told the Gazette.
Since the program started in Port McNeill in 2008, the community has gone from earning two blooms to three in 2010. A little more than $2,000 was raised in donations from the community to support the program. Barratt has paid her own way to attend the annual convention.
Coun. Gaby Wickstrom voted to support Communities in Bloom for another year.
“I have looked over the town report and also the Communities in Bloom evaluation. I think that the evaluation gives constructive advice,” said Wickstrom. “I would like to see the CIB support continue for at least one more year, looking at how we can work together with other volunteer organizations such as the heritage and museum society to achieve some of the goals stated in a more collaborative method.”
Wickstrom added that she felt Communities in Bloom has had a positive impact on the town’s appearance and that losing the program could lead to some regression.
Coun. Shelley Downey was absent for the meeting.
Barratt says that despite the council’s decision, the program will go ahead again this year, building on its successes so far.
“Our plan is to carry on without the town leadership,” said Barratt. “We will be looking to businesses, residents and volunteers to each do their bit.”
The Community in Blooms program is designed to show communities how to become more attractive. Communities that are attractive and look successful are more likely to be successful, said Barratt in a letter to council.
“Port McNeill has much to offer in the natural landscape but its residents express a strong desire for beautification of their community,” said Barratt. “The Communities in Bloom Program has helped many villages, towns and cities reach their dreams of having residents become proud of their communities. With full participation, Port McNeill can too.”