A friendly rivalry is growing between the Towns of Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury.
The seeds of the rivalry were planted last year, and now have sent tendrils into the communities, businesses, schools, churches and public facilities of both neighbouring municipalities.
And everyone is reaping the benefits.
It's the Communities in Bloom competition, a Civic pride and beautification program that invites municipalities to undertake flower planting, tree stewardship, anti-littering and environmental initiatives, and then evaluates the effort.
Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury both entered last year, and were fairly close in the scoring; Bradford West Gwillimbury just edged out its neighbour to the north, based on community involvement.
But this year, each Town is determined to beat the other. The result: the two municipalities have never looked better.
Flowers cascade out of hanging baskets and half-barrels on the main streets of Bradford, and bright banners decorate the heritage light standards. Crews of volunteers have co-ordinated with Public Works and Recreation departments, to pick up litter, pull up weeds and water flowers. Environmental projects have included vermicomposting and a community partnership to build birdhouses for Scanlon Creek Conservation Area. A new sculpture is being installed at the old IGA parkette. And home-owners and businesses have bought into the idea: local flower beds are a riot of colour.
In Innisfil, each local community has appointed its own Communities in Bloom committee, pulling together volunteers to plant new flower beds, put up "Welcome" signs, organize garden tours, and pick up litter. Again, partnerships between the volunteer committees and the municipality have produced great results: the public flower beds are a delight.
It doesn't hurt that the Town's Mayor, Brian Jackson, is Chair of the Innisfil's Communities in Bloom Committee, or that the Town's Community Reinvestment Fund awarded Communities in Bloom $7,500 for flowers and landscaped signage at the entries to the municipality.
The judges will be coming to Innisfil on July 20 and 21, and to Bradford West Gwillimbury July 22-23. Which municipality wll score higher is a matter for speculation - but it hardly matters. The two Towns have improved their civic image and beautified their streets, which means that their residents are the winners.
And both will have another shot at it next year, anyway since Communities in Bloom is a 5-year commitment.
Committee members will be taking the Communities in Bloom judges on a tour of the municipality on Tuesday, leaving from the Clock Tower at 10 a.m., with a break for lunch at the Danube Senior Leisure Centre.
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