Q&A with Woking Communities in Bloom Committtee Members

Woking Communities in Bloom Committee Members Shirley Wurm, Patty Rolinger, and Mary Knoblauch

Communities in Bloom (CiB) is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement and an annual national program that challenges communities to enhance green spaces.

Implemented in the hamlet in 2009, the Woking CiB came about with Saddle Hills County’s Chief Administrative Officer, at that time, coming to a Woking Willing Workers (WWW) meeting to ask the members if they would be interested and willing to form a Communities in Bloom Committee because the County thought the program would be a great way to enhance the hamlet and encourage community involvement.

We sat down with long-time members Shirley Wurm, Patty Rolinger and Mary Knoblauch to find out what the committee has been up to over the past nine years.

What progress has occurred within the hamlet that was directly related to the introduction of the CiB program?
Collaborating with WWW, the CiB committee members were instrumental in getting the County to remove old vacant buildings and clean up empty lots. We also got the Canadian, Alberta and County flags installed at the east welcome sign. We got the recycling program started. We’ve planted several trees in the public areas and the hall. We got the information booth built and set up the common picnic area across from the store. The improvements that the County has made helped residents take more civic pride in their own yards. The program really has instilled more pride in all of us.

We also, of course, plant flowers and tend to them each season, and we have been blessed to have the assistance of the Woking School Leadership Class to prep the barrels and plant flowers. That has been a great experience for both the CiB members and the students to get to work together. It’s a mandate of the CiB program to work with people of all ages, and we have successfully accomplished that, which has been nice to see and be a part of. And since the program was brought into Woking, several residents have adopted vacant lots and public spaces to take care – mowing grass in the summer, clearing driveways in the winter and reducing litter – when the County or landowners are unable to. Our most recent endeavor was developing a park, with the assistance and support of the County.

What types of activities or events does the Woking CiB Committee organize for the community?
Every year, we have a Christmas Tree Light-up where we have sleigh rides, indoor games, and Santa comes to light up our hamlet’s Christmas Tree. We help the Woking Skating Rink Association (WSRA) organize a family fun skate night at the outdoor rink. We’ve also put on a family picnic where many of the community came out to visit and play a few games of baseball. We plan to have more picnics in the new park. Last year, we collaborated with WWW and Westmark Farmer’s League for a Canada 150 celebration out at the Westmark Hall.

How is the Woking CiB program and all its activities funded?
Saddle Hills County gives us operating funds, and we apply for grants that are available to us, mostly through the County, but also Province or Federal. For specific events, such as the tree light-up, we are fortunate to get support from local businesses as well.

What challenges does the committee face?
Volunteers for the committee. We have lots of volunteers who will come out and help with specific tasks, but we need committee members to help keep it going and bring fresh ideas.

Communities can enroll in either a competitive or a non-competitive category. Which one has Woking enrolled in for this year and what does that mean for the hamlet and its residents?
We are competing this year and we are so excited to be welcoming the judges who will be coming to our hamlet for a meet and greet on the 25th of July. We will also be taking them on a tour in and around Woking to show off everyone’s aesthetically beautiful yards and gardens, local businesses and, of course, our new Day Use Park that is still in development, but is looking fantastic with the new gazebo that arrived in the winter, picnic table and a few other items.

Does the Woking CiB have any goals for the future?
To win the Nationals! However, first we’ll settle for getting 5 Blooms, which we’re sure striving for with the new Day Use Park, and then to win the Provincials in our category. Project-wise, our next major goal will be moving into phase 2 of the Day Use Park. That will include planting a few more trees, maybe installing another picnic table and bench. We will also continue to collaborate with other organizations and residents in the Woking area and neighbouring communities.