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Monday 13 August 2012

Two more down.

We continued our Tidy Towns adventures with two more regional centers on the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas this past weekend. The first stop was in Marystown and I can honestly say that I learn more in one Tidy Towns visit then all previous visits combined.

As a service center the town is not just maintaining but growing in services, businesses and number of residents. The challenges of municipal service delivery become obvious when you look at the shear area that the town is spread over. Highlights of the visit include the town museum with live free entertainment and a great collection of local history, and the Ville Marie Gardens. Occasionally the media take a little interest and in Marystown it was the Southern Gazette and you can read that story here. Nice little spot but the quotes are not exactly stellar. At any rate it's good coverage for the town and the Tidy Towns program.

The next stop on the tour, after a quick pit stop for a cup of tea at Tims,  was the town of Bonavista. Bonavista won it's category in 2011 when we last judged that category so we were pretty familiar with it, but it was nice to see some of the new work the town has been doing. The volume of heritage properties in the town is simply striking. You can barely turn around without seeing a property recently restored or about to be restored, and while the town gets some credit it's largely the volunteer historical society that does much of the work in conjunction with the town. Its a similar story with the beautiful flower displays on town properties. There's a horticultural society that plants and maintains flowers provided by the town. It is good to see that level of community commitment and volunteer effort.

On a related note while in Bonavista we stayed in the Jubilee House B&B and had a great experience there. While I tend to lean toward hotels I do enjoy a good B&B. You are much more likely to find visitors from outside our province staying at them and the communal table can lead to great conversations. This time there was a couple from Peterborough, and a young man from Montreal in town for a visit. We sat together talking about the similarity of community issues across the country for about 2 hours over tea and homemade toast. It was great fun.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Rural, Urban or Somewhere Between?

The second stop on our Tidy Towns tour for 2012 was the hub of the east coast, AKA Clarenville. I grew up a mere 20 minutes from Clarenville so I remember when certain stores opened and closed throughout the years. I recall when Tim Horton's, KCF and of course the largest event at the time, McDonalds. No more having to drive to Gander or St. John's to satisfy that Big Mac craving! So needless to say I'm generally familiar with the growth that Clarenville has experienced in the past couple of decades. But, even knowing this our tour of the town indicated a level of growth that shocked me.

Clarenville has always been a service centre, with government offices, the hospital and major chain grocery, hardware and furniture stores located there. But to see the number of new housing starts in the community is astounding, especially when compared to other "rural" locations in NL. But is Clarenville rural? If not is it urban? Our standards of rural and urban in NL have always been on a different scale then other parts of the country and it is always difficult to draw a line that separates rural from urban. Whatever category Clarenville fits into it is certainly experiencing the same form of growth that a few other towns like Gander is experiencing. The growth of service centers seems to be a direct result of the slow suffering of rural and remote communities.

Regardless of the reasons Clarenville is doing very well for it's self. Residents are getting more and more services as time passes and it seems to be attracting more and more residents! Do yourself a favor and next time you pass by take a stop in and have a look around as see what Clarenville has to offer!  

Friday 3 August 2012

29 In The Shade

Never let it be said that we don't get some fine weather here in good old NL. Today marked the first evaluation of my Tidy Towns group of communities and I am happy to report it was a wonderful 29 degrees Celsius in the Town of Springdale.

This year the category that my girlfriend and I are judging will cover 7 municipalities that range in population from about 2500 to about 5500. The competition is based on an entry process and this year for this category the 7 towns are all in the central, eastern and avalon regions of the province. Nothing from western or Labrador in my category. Sad times indeed.

The day spent in Springdale was fantastic and our gracious hosts spent a few hours showing us the highlights of their great community. The recreation facilities available for a community of that size is truly impressive, especially the pool! While the rage of population for each category changes each year depending on the towns who apply Springdale has been a winner in the past and it's not difficult to see why. Unfortunately the battery in my camera began to die but luckily my girlfriend Sheila was better prepared. Once all the evaluations are complete I'll post a few choice pics to show just how beautiful our NL communities really are.

A hearty thanks to the Town of Springdale for a great day and we look forward to our next visit!