It’s time for residents to stop and smell the several-billion subjects of this year’s Greater Victoria Flower Count.
The 47th annual count, celebrated with a media event Monday in the gardens of the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) in Saanich, takes place from March 9 to 16 across the region, following up a year that saw more than 65 billion blooms tallied.
Highlands was last year’s “bloomingest” municipality, with over 30 billion blossoms counted, followed by Saanich with 23 billion.
Where past flower counts offered opportunities to fawn over the mild-weather blooms not seen anywhere else in Canada, this year’s collection of blooms make up a large, virtual get-well bouquet to the rest of the country, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams said.
In the spirit of what was thrice reminded to be purely friendly competition, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes challenged peers from surrounding jurisdictions to “bring their best” to the count, “because Saanich has got this wrapped up already.”
Aside from spotlighting the Island’s natural beauty and fun bragging rights for the municipalities, the flower count can play a vital role in revitalizing Victoria’s tourism industry and those that rely on it, according to Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey.
The significance of this year’s flower count is to “reintroduce Greater Victoria to customers,” said Nursey, whose organization’s sponsorship of the count follows its $2.2-million marketing commitment to promote the region into the summer.
“Nothing will revive private sector businesses more than having customers back. We don’t just target everyone – we target high-yield travellers who value experiences such as this … who represent the values in our community,” Nursey said, suggesting visitors from such places as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Toronto.
Despite the past two years of the COVID pandemic, Haynes said the HCP garden has become better known and offers more in the way of education thanks to online promotion.
“It’s a big part of our economic renewal coming out of COVID … (the Flower Count) is one of the gems of that and has been with us for a long time.”
Despite digital media creating a new landscape for tourism, “a tradition like the Flower Count still has tremendous resonance and remains as current today as it did 47 years ago,” Nursey said. “It’s who we are as a community and we’re proud to share.”
Instructions on how to count blooms, as well as public submission guidelines, can be found at flowercount.ca. Progress of the count through to March 16 can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @FlowerCount.
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