NOTL Bloom committee will blossom afterall
Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors had a change of heart this week and approved most of the items requested by the Communities in Bloom committee for an upcoming international competition on the enhancement of green spaces.
Last week, councillors turned down the committee’s request of $77,000 for enhanced floral displays and extra staffing, saying it was too expensive and it should have been discussed before the 2017 budget was finalized in December.
However, on Monday, council agreed to spend $60,000 on hanging baskets, Christmas decorations and an additional parks labourer from the parking reserve budget.
Flags and banners, at a cost of $8,000, and a special events co-ordinator position budgeted at $9,000 were rejected.
Coun. Betty Disero told council that a lot of the work on enhancing the town’s green spaces is done by volunteers and much of the plant materials and other gardening supplies are donated by local businesses. Some examples she cited are the planting of 600 saplings and two large pollinator gardens, painting of garbage cans by students and a “SWAT” team that cleans up overgrown areas.
She said the local Canada sesquicentennial committee would be putting up its flags so it wouldn’t be necessary for the Communities in Bloom to put up their own and a few residents have volunteered to take on the special events co-ordinator’s duties.
“The (town) staff have been so tremendous and overworked to make expansions … so we could win the Communities in Bloom,” Disero said, referring to the high score the town achieved at the 2016 Canadian competition.
The evaluation of a five-bloom silver rating at the national level allowed the town the opportunity to compete internationally this year.
Coun. Jim Collard said the town currently has $450,000 in the parking reserve fund. He made a motion that the money spent on the Communities in Bloom program be reimbursed to the parking reserve after the surplus is calculated this spring.
His motion passed, but some councillors said that maintenance of the displays for Communities in Bloom should be in the operating budget or discretionary grants in the future years.
Registration for the international competition is due this month with the judging to take place in July.