Communities in Bloom judges Tanya Blatz and Don Budinsky with summer camp kids, who welcomed them to the community of East St. Paul. (Photo Submitted)
East St. Paul put out the welcome mat for two Communities in Bloom judges Aug. 3, in hopes to earn two green thumbs up and maybe even a decent bloom rating at the annual convention and awards show.
Bloom ratings come out in September, but judges Don Budinsky and Tanya Blatz gave early indications that their thumbs were pointing skyward after the first half of their tour of the municipality. This is East St. Paul’s first year in the Communities in Bloom competition.
“There’s a real garden culture in East St. Paul, people really have pride of ownership. It’s very evident,” Budinsky said during a stop for lunch at the Farmers Market site.
“The community is very clean, very green, haven’t seen any litter or any graffiti. So kudos to the community for keeping that under control.”
The judges enjoyed lunch with East St. Paul mayor Shelley Hart, St. Paul MLA Ron Schuler as well as municipal staff and CiB committee members. Students enrolled in summer camp made the judges a special ‘Welcome Judges sign and ate lunch with them as well.
Blatz said recreation programmer Tyne Mills and CiB committee members had provided them with plenty of information on local history, and she was looking forward to more during the second part of the tour.
“We’ve heard lots of great stories and we’re still hearing more and more of the heritage and the care and the environmental avenues that people have invested into the community. It sounds like we’re going to be learning a lot more today,” Blatz said.
She particularly enjoyed the rural and urban mix of East St. Paul.
“We’ve been really enjoying the rurban-ness of everything…It’s the mix of rural and urban and it’s really special and unique to your community.”
Budinsky said he was pleased with the environmental practices he saw throughout the RM, from composting to rain barrels, and the garbage receptacles that go 10 feet into the ground were impressive. The fact that they need to be emptied far less to save staff time and energy was “a really smart thing,” he said.
“The containers are made from recycled plastic, so everything’s good there, very environmentally sound.”
Communities in Bloom judge in six categories – tidiness effort, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays.
Communities are rated on a bloom scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating. Ratings will be revealed at the annual provincial conference at the International Peace Gardens Sept. 8 and 9.