On July 30 and 31, Dawson City will be visited by two judges, scrutinizing the town in the Communities in Bloom (CiB) program, and ranking it against other Canadian communities.
This is the fourth year Dawson is running in the program.
In a “five bloom” scoring system, Dawson has earned five blooms in three out of the four years.
CiB is a non-profit organization, established in 1995. Canadian communities are evaluated for their environmental practices, beauty and community involvement.
Dawson has been nominated in the National challenge for its success in previous years. It will be stacked up against five other communities within the 1,201-3,000 population category—Ashcroft and Harrison Hot Springs (British Columbia) Beausejour and Bruderheim (Manitoba), and Trenton, Nova Scotia.
Carmacks is the only other Yukon community running in the program, making its debut as a solo candidate in the Territorial challenge.
Depending on its score, Carmacks could be up for the National challenge in the future.
The winners of the National challenge are nominated for their population size in the International challenge.
The judges visiting the six communities and Carmacks are Lucy Chang, an international garden/flora tour guide from Edmonton, Alberta, and Roger Younker, a retired CBC broadcast host and “avid rose grower” from Charlottetown.
Arriving in Dawson, the judges will be provided with a “Community Profile Booklet”, compiled by the City of Dawson Recreation Department, which will showcase profiles of organizations, businesses and individuals with pictures and outlines of events.
Over the next two days, the judges will be taking notes on the communities in eight areas: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, turfs and ground covers, floral displays and community involvement.
Lana Welchman, the recreation department manager, explains the program about more than just flowers.
Tidiness includes green spaces, streets, sidewalks, all properties, ditches and vacant lots—checking for weeds, maintenance, repair and vandalism.
Environmental action regards recycling initiatives, waste disposal and reduction, water conservation, transportation and environmental stewardship.
Heritage conservation involves the integration of landscape and streetscape into community heritage, and looks at preservation of tradition through year-round festivities.
Urban forestry evaluates tree replacement, pest management, heritage, memorial and commemorative trees.
On landscape, the judges will be looking at the overall surroundings, and considering the elements of plants and materials on a year-long basis.
Turf and ground covers, and floral displays, are judged for quality, design, use and execution.
Finally, community involvement includes volunteer involvement and community initiatives by all sectors.
Although the touring of the judges is organized by the Recreation Department, there will also be individuals from the community sharing their stories and knowledge with the judges.
Molly MacDonald, Dawson City Museum archival co-ordinator and gardening guru, is one of the Dawsonites who will be hosts.
MacDonald plans to talk to the judges about the history and evolution of landscape of the Government Reserve on the southern end of the town, while she takes them for a walking tour.
Two of the landmarks she will be strolling through and discussing is Victory Gardens by the Dawson City Museum and Minto Park—what’s been done and what used to be in both of these locations.
These two grounds in particular, she says, “were conceived as a grand landscape.”
“The area, which was the Government Reserve, over the years has been built up,” she says.
For example, the town’s new hospital is being constructed on this land.
MacDonald plans to end her tour at the Commissioner’s Residence, where the gardens and their blooms will be showed off.
“In many ways, [CiB] is reminiscent of beautification campaigns that were popular at the time that Dawson was founded,” says MacDonald.
“Gardening was seen as both a symbol and creator of civic pride and well-being.
However, to MacDonald, the program is about more than esthetic glory.
“Gardening is just one of many ways that people choose to express care for their communities,” she says.
“CiB evaluates communities not only on things like floral displays, but also environmental stewardship and community involvement.”
The results will be announced in Edmonton in October. Winners will receive a granite block and the prestige of achievement amongst the 400 communities entered this year in the program.