Niagara-on-the-Lake has received a national heritage conservation award from Communities in Bloom, the organization that last year chose the town to receive the top, five gold bloom award for communities of its size.
This year, instead of continuing on in the competition for an overall win, which requires extensive preparation and judging, the NOTL Communities in Bloom committee decided to take a break from that level of activity and concentrate on what is called an “unevaluated” entry for the heritage award, said Betty Disero, chair of the committee. Working with parks and recreation manager Kevin Turcotte, she compiled an entry listing the organizations and programs in town dedicated to heritage preservation, such as the Niagara Foundation, the NOTL Conservancy, the Town's annual heritage awards, and the many successes, such as the Landscape of Nations memorial in Queenston Heights and the Voices of Freedom Park on Regent Street which will officially open Nov. 2.
These are all the elements that help keep heritage sites in town “animated and dynamic” for visitors, said Disero.
The Outstanding Achievement Award for Heritage Conservation looks at efforts to preserve natural heritage within the community, with focus on the integration of landscape and streetscapes in built heritage, the Communities in Bloom press release says. It includes heritage pertaining to monuments, memorials, artifacts, museums and history, archives, traditions, customs, festivals and celebrations in relation to parks and green spaces. Participation of groups such as historical societies and conservation groups is also considered.
In NOTL, heritage is guided and celebrated by public policies and programs as well as through private residents and group efforts, the CIB press release said. “Town council is proactive in upholding standards for conservation and preservation of its numerous heritage properties, villages and attributes,” as well as Canada's first federally-recognized heritage district, the press release said.
Winning an award for heritage conservation is especially exciting, said Disero, because of its importance to the town.
“The more people recognize how significant our heritage is, the more people will come to see how significant our country is in the contributions we've made,” she said. “That's really important to us. For me, it's amazing. I'm so proud of what our heritage organizations have been doing.”
While NOTL's 2017 international award is often referred to as “the prettiest town,” it means so more, said Disero—it includes heritage preservation, floral displays, tidiness, celebration of culture and volunteerism.
NOTL also won the 2017 special mention for volunteer leadership and an outstanding achievement award for floral displays.
What happens next year is up to the next council, said Disero—a decision will be made whether to enter another level of CIB competition, or another unevaluated entry as they did this year.