The District of Sooke will not compete in this year’s Communities in Bloom (CIB) competition.
Despite the program’s success in Sooke – the town has won the competition’s top provincial honour six times in the last nine years – CIB puts a strain on district resources.
“Retaining this five-bloom status requires a significant amount of staff time from administration, corporate services, communications, and parks and environmental services to plan and host the event,” a staff report to district council stated. “In 2019, we worked with a consultant to develop the profile books and albums, but that process also required staff input to advise of the local government contributions to each of the CIB categories.”
Sooke council pulled back on its commitment to CIB last year when it registered in the non-competitive Friends category.
Mayor Maja Tait said while CIB is a valuable program for the municipality, it is unfair to put additional pressure on staff with two major facilities –the SEAPARC multi-sport box and Pond’s Park dog park – opening this year, as well as ongoing challenges related to the COVID pandemic.
“It’s a year to pause for applause and acknowledge the work that has taken place,” she said.
Staff gave council three options to consider for this year’s competition: identify a community organization willing to assume the duties related to CIB and support it with a grant; direct staff to allocate time to host the event, or not to participate.
Several councillors favoured launching a committee for next year’s program. The deadline for the 2022 program registration is March 13, with judging taking place in mid-July.