Skip to main content

Tag: Communities in Bloom

Communities in Bloom awards silver, Pincher Creek’s highest ranking to date

Following its participation in this year’s Communities in Bloom challenge in the Circle of Excellence – Evaluated category, the Town of Pincher Creek has received a rating of five blooms – silver.

Communities in Bloom, a Canadian non-profit organization, uses a multi-tiered competitive evaluation process to help municipalities cultivate community strength and encourage continuous improvements.  

In July, CIB-trained volunteer judges Colleen Stockford and Larry Hall travelled to Pincher Creek to assess the town based on a variety of criteria. This included community appearance, environmental action, heritage conservation, tree management, landscape and plant and floral designs.

Communities are evaluated using a “bloom” rating, determined by the total score of the evaluation, and are ranked from one bloom to five blooms. Given that the town scored five blooms as a national/international competitor, Pincher Creek also received the silver rating, one of four exclusive levels.

Based on the town’s rating, Pincher Creek scored somewhere between 87 and 89.9 per cent on its evaluation.

In addition to the town’s overall rating, Pincher Creek was given a special mention for its Wayfinding Signage, which really caught the attention of judges. In their joint evaluation, Larry and Colleen expressed how they felt that the signs are “not only practical and informative, but also provide a unity to the community.” 

Rhonda Oczkowski, the town’s recreation programmer and CIB committee member, played a large role in ensuring the town was prepared for the challenge. She feels the community should be proud, as this is the first time Pincher Creek has received the silver rating, the town’s highest score to date.

“We did very well, especially after a five-year hiatus, but the judges did give us a lot of things to consider going forward as to what we could do to continue to improve,” she says.

Results were released Sunday during CIB’s 2023 national/international symposium and awards ceremony in Fort McMurray. For a complete list of results, head over to

Woman in orange dress and sweater and man in jeans and blue t-shirt with yard-of-the-week sign in a nicely landscaped yard

Pincher Creek names latest Yard of the Week

For 25 years, Mel Kubasek’s rich and unique yard has been thriving in the Pincher Creek community. Now, it’s being awarded this week’s Yard of the Week.

“I like to have my place looking attractive,” says Mel. “It’s something I enjoy.” 

Mel’s love for yard work was certainly picked up on by the previous winner, Dale Ferguson, who selected him as part of this Communities in Bloom “paying it forward” initiative.

This isn’t the first time Mel’s pristine yard has won him recognition. He notes receiving an award for best-maintained front lawn in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

When Mel settled in Pincher Creek many years ago, he did all of his own landscaping. His many plants have since evolved and adapted to the local environment and the ever-present wind touching his hilltop property.

“You’re never fully done when you’ve got a landscape to take care of,” he says.

Rather than embracing a typical flower-based garden, the mature yard relies on contrasting colours and textures from the bushes and trees. Some notable plants in Mel’s yard are his buckeye nut tree, flowering crab tree, juniper, Turkistan burning bush and ninebark bush.

“Some of this stuff has a mind of its own,” Mel says, noting the curious ways some plants grow, or the new plants that are blown in, like his bluebells, “volunteering” their presence. 


Wedding banquet view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


There are even some wildflowers Mel can’t identify but which, nevertheless, bring more character to the garden.

“I keep things down to a dull roar,” he says.

The plant life isn’t the only thing bringing dimension to Mel’s yard; his two front-lawn boulders also bring a special touch.

“Rocks are some of my favourites,” he says, noting that the rocks have been there since 1996, and were a gift from his neighbour. “I love rocks and boulders.”

With them comes moss — another special aspect of his yard.

Looking at Mel’s yard, you can really see the results of many years of work and adapting to the area.

“I try to plant things that are wind-tolerant,” he says. “It’s a lot of trial and error.”

Mel also shares the secret to completely weed-free rock beds: laying down high-quality landscaping mesh, about a foot of gravel, then topping with the rocks.

Mel’s victory this week brought him some gardening goodies from Miracle-Gro, the Yard of the Week sponsor, and a Communities in Bloom sign he can display.

“You gotta have something to do, and this is what I enjoy doing,” he says.

Mel will be looking for the next winner this week, which you can read about in a future issue of Shootin’ the Breeze.

Members of the Old Man Roses Society at their garden at Pincher Creek's Lebel Mansion

For the love of roses!

Rose enthusiasts in Pincher Creek are asking town council to install deer fencing around the historic Lebel Mansion’s rose garden, marking a tactical shift in gardeners’ roving battle with the town’s hooved menace. 

Past deer controls, including chicken wire, flashing lights and organic sprays, “have been totally ineffectual,” Kay Weir, president of the Old Man Rose Society, said at the head of the society’s delegation to council April 11. 

Roses are a favourite snack among the town’s sprawling mule deer population, estimated at nearly 100 strong last winter by Maria Didkowsky, a wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. 

The society has cultivated the Lebel rose garden since 2007, when it entered into a rental agreement with town hall. In that time, Weir said, the society has accepted over 100 private donations, as well as donations from the town and neighbouring MD and from Shell Canada, which formerly operated the Shell Waterton Gas Plant.

That money has gone into beautifying the garden, long a popular spot for tea parties and a crowning feature of the town’s annual Communities in Bloom contest.


Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor


The deer have ravaged the garden to the point where it might not factor in this year’s contest. 

“If we are to participate in Communities in Bloom, based on last year’s example, there will not be very many flowers on display unless something is done,” Weir said, adding that the society’s membership has dwindled, partly due to gardeners’ mounting frustrations. 

Weir suggested putting up roughly 43 metres (140 feet) of fencing around the garden. 

Mayor Don Anderberg said he empathized with the society’s plight. 

“Obviously, the deer are a problem,” he said, qualifying that deer management falls under provincial jurisdiction. 



chicken wire placed over rose bushes to protect them from deer
The society has resorted to using chicken wire to fend off hungry deer, but the measure is plainly ineffective — and perhaps unsightly. Laurie Tritschler photo


“I’m not making any excuses: we all have deer issues at our own properties,” Anderberg continued. 

The town’s nuisance bylaw (1574-19) prohibits anyone from feeding wildlife, specifically including deer. The bylaw also forbids the use or accumulation of wildlife attractants anywhere in town. Both offences are punishable by fines between $200 and $500. 

Council has meanwhile directed administration to look into a potential land use bylaw amendment allowing for higher fencing to keep deer out of residents’ yards.   

Weir said she hoped to see deer fencing at the rose garden as soon as possible.

Council is considering the society’s request, which may require an amendment to this year’s budget, Coun. Sahra Nodge said.