Tractors danced, bubbles blew and confetti shot out at Town Centre Park this morning (July 22) to celebrate civic pride in Coquitlam.
But the performance by city parks staff was directed for two people only: Berta Briggs, a retired greenhouse owner from Wetaskiwin, Alta., and Larry Hall, a retired educator from Buena Vista, Sask.
The pair is in Coquitlam this week to judge the city’s entry into the the annual Communities In Bloom (CIB) competition as National Grand Champions — the first time the city has competed in the category.
Coquitlam is the last stop on the judges’ cross-Canada excursion, having already visited competitors Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Rosemere, Que.; Orangeville, Ont.; and Castlegar, B.C.
Briggs told the Tri-City News they have a long checklist to rate municipal candidates, including:
- community appearance
- environmental action
- heritage conservation
- tree management
- floral displays
Briggs and Hall started their Coquitlam tour on Thursday (July 21) and visited 10 locations — among them, Blue Mountain Park where they enjoyed a picnic with community groups.
Today (July 22), they toured the Inspiration Garden at Town Centre Park before the tractor dance on the baseball field.
City staff also escorted them to Hockaday, Galloway and Pioneer parks before lunching at the Centennial Rose Garden and spending an afternoon at the Sports Hall of Fame and Robinson Memorial Cemetery.
Dinner will be under the stars at Mundy Park.
"It is amazing to see such multi-use at the parks," Briggs told the Tri-City News.
"We’re looking at all the facets that make a community a great place to live, work and play. We want to see a community that is very beautiful and very vibrant."
The awards will be presented in October at the CIB national symposium in Victoria.
It’s not the first time that Coquitlam has participated in a CIB competition.
Last year, it took national and provincial accolades for community involvement and volunteerism, and in 2020, Coquitlam scooped national prizes for youth involvement and environmental action.
The municipality also won the coveted "5 Blooms" title every year from 2015 to 2019 in provincial, national and international categories.
Kathleen Reinheimer, Coquitlam’s parks manager, said there’s a lot of hard work to prepare for the judges’ arrival: The city not only formed a CIB committee (made up of local business leaders and volunteers) but it also encouraged residents to take on the Year of the Garden theme and plant red flowers.
City staff also published a 100-page profile book to highlight Coquitlam’s assets and list its CIB partners, which include the Tri-City News.
"This is about celebrating our community," Reinheimer told the Tri-City News.
"It recognizes our civic accomplishments. Really, it’s not about the competition. It provides us with a framework to pull us all together and showcase what a healthy, thriving city we are.
"We have a welcoming and safe place that’s inclusive and diverse."
As for the economic spinoffs, Reinheimer said being a finalist puts CIB-participating communities on the map for tourism.
"And the winner gets bragging rights," she said.