Cast yourself back to 1994. Pulp Fiction was a box office smash, Friends hit the small screen, Amazon was in its infancy stage, and in the town of Stony Plain a fellow by the name of Brad Schultz was the Director of Public Works.
Brad is now Director of Operations for ARMA, but one day back in 1994, he picked up a copy of Turf Magazine and saw a small ad on the corner of a page, talking about something called ‘Communities in Bloom’.
A U.S. initiative at the time, Brad was intrigued by the notion of a friendly competition between communities to see who could design the best front yards, and so he responded to the ad seeking out any Canadian towns that would like to participate. Brad can therefore be unofficially credited with bringing Communities in Bloom into Canada. He spread the word and five other municipalities ended up competing for the prize.
He rallied the residents of Stony Plain to get behind this initiative. It was the sense of civic pride this competition instilled that helped lead them to victory.
From there the event ‘blossomed’ as each year as more and more municipalities and provinces entered the competition to the point where a corporate office for the event was established in Ottawa. Brad found that “it bonded communities who invested a lot of effort into ensuring their individual properties, store fronts, and businesses were beautifully and artistically showcased”.
Fast forward to 2008, and Brad, in his role as ARMA’s Director of Operations, had another light bulb moment. This time however, instead of flowers, it would involve scrap tires, old computers products and cans of leftover paint.
He determined that the “pride, sense of community and feeling of accomplishment” instilled by Communities in Bloom, could be translated to Alberta Recycling’s Collection Site Program.
Municipalities and Indigenous communities registered in this program establish collection sites where residents and businesses can drop off their old electronics, paint, tires and used oil materials for recycling.
Alberta Recycling’s Collection Site Awards of Excellence was launched in 2008 to annually recognize three registered collection sites – in the categories of small, medium and large, based on the populations they serve – for their exceptional dedication to providing collection sites that are organized, convenient and safe for residents and businesses to use.
The awards have resulted in Alberta Recycling staff being asked throughout the year, “how can our site win an award?” or “since winning our award, we have maintained the same standard that helped us win in the first place, is there another award we could get for keeping it up?”
As predicted, the pride instilled by a well-landscaped front yard is equally evident in the pride generated by a well-run collection site. And flowers bloom there as well!