Busy Bees on Beautification Committee
Abeautiful town, with well-kept yards, abundant flower gardens, shrubs and trees accenting well-maintained homes and businesses, is a nice place to visit and an even nicer place to live.
Although Stanstead’s Beautification Committee began only four years ago and its members are few, many people have noticed that the town seems to look a little spiffier every year. The three member committee, Huguette Grenier, Sandra Wallace Harrison and Marise Trepanier, met with The Stanstead Journal at the town’s Culture and Recreation Centre, last Friday, to share their ambitious ideas and aesthetic hopes for the town that all three grew up in.
“It’s very funny how the committee got started. I was at a town meeting and mentioned about cleaning up the town and councilor Michele Richard asked me why not be on a Beautification Committee. So I helped start the committee, there were five of us at the beginning, but when I had talked about cleaning the town at the meeting, I was just talking about the dirt on the streets,” explained Mrs. Grenier.
“Our main mandate is to entice people to beautify the front of their homes and businesses,” said Mrs. Trepanier. One way the committee accomplishes this is by holding flower garden contests in the summer and Christmas light contests in the winter. “Our Christmas lights contest, the Feerie de Noel, is really popular – more people are decorating and we have better prizes to give away,” said Mrs. Wallace Harrison. The garden contests are also popular except for, surprisingly enough, the “New Flower Bed” competition which has never had a single entry!
Always happy to get their hands into the dirt, these three gardeners also plant flowers at the town’s monuments and in the planters at the much-debated site at the border between Stanstead and Derby Line, where they were once filmed by a television crew.
“What we’re really excited about this year is the Fleurons du Quebec. We applied three years ago and in our first evaluation we were given three flowers which was really good for a first year. The gardens at Rock of Ages, Stanstead College, Banting and Hackett Parks helped us earn those three flowers. This summer, the Fleurons du Quebec will visit the town again because they return every three years, so it’s an opportunity for us to go for that fourth flower!” said Marise enthusiastically.
The Fleurons du Quebec organization has told the Beautification Committee where the town needs to improve to rate the fourth flower. Three years ago Stanstead scored 187 points out of 310 for municipal land; 55 out of 140 for commercial properties; 110 out of 180 for church and school properties; and 123 out of 270 for residential properties. “There’s lots of improvement to do there,” said Marise.
“We will have to go and start talking to people soon. We’ll be calling businesses, commerces, stores, churches and schools to ask them to take part in this initiative,” said Mrs. Grenier. Some have already jumped on the bandwagon: “Place Stanstead has agreed to make gardens.”
“Community involvement is also important to gain points from Fleurons du Quebec; the new community garden will certainly add points,” said Sandra.
Besides being a fun way to get people involved in their own town’s ‘makeover’, there are other advantages to earning flowers from Fleurons du Quebec. “They’ll install special signs at the entrances of towns and these signs attract tourists. Some tourists even choose their destinations based on the Fleurons du Quebec ratings.”
Because of the committee’s quest to gain a fourth flower for Stanstead, five interesting summer jobs have been created. “We had money left from the Youth Coop last year so we decided to do something else with that money because the Youth Coop wasn’t meeting the needs of the community. This year we want to hire a coordinator and four young adults; we’ve received five grants for that. The grants are through an EmploiQuebec program aimed at people presently not working who would love to get some work experience,” said the committee members.
“They don’t need to have any gardening experience at all,” stressed Mrs. Wallace Harrison. “Besides learning about gardening, they’ll also get training in how to make a budget and other life skills like making a CV,” added Mrs. Trepanier.
To give local residents a little motivation to get planting, this Friday there will be a perennial plant exchange and a free tree give-away at the Town Hall from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. “We always have a variety of nice, healthy plants. People bring their plants in pots or bags, then get coupons for them that they can exchange for the plants of their choice. This year we have only one hundred trees to give away: fifty spruce and fifty hardwood trees,” said Mrs. Trepanier. On Saturday, the town will be giving away free compost at the municipal garage, between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.
The Beautification Committee is always looking for new members to share their ideas and knowhow, and residents are always welcome to consult any one of the committee members with their gardening questions or exterior house colour inquiries. For more information call Marise Trepanier at 819 704-0660.
Members of Stanstead’s Beautification Committee, seen here in the lovely garden of local artist Louisette Gauthier-Mitchell, are (l. to r.) Sandra Wallace Harrison, Huguette
Grenier and Marise Trepanier.