Anne Rota

Town looking for 150 nominees for “CANdo 150 Award of Distinction”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

As part of Canada 150 celebrations, the town is looking to recognize those who have given back.

The “CANdo 150 Award of Distinction” has been developed with nominations now open in the categories of community service, leadership and legacy. The awards will be presented on Canada Day at 2 p.m. as part of the annual festivities at Fort Malden National Historic Site.

“What the town of Amherstburg wanted to do is recognize 150 citizens of the town for their outstanding contributions,” explained manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

The town wanted to not only celebrate the 150th birthday of the country, but “the people who have contributed their time and talents to make Canada what it is today.”

The community service category recognizes those whose volunteer service benefits his or her community.

Canada150

“We know Amherstburg has a very active volunteer base,” said Rota. “I believe that’s what sets Amherstburg apart. I hear it time and time again from my colleagues.”

The leadership category encompasses a person who guides or directs a group to achieve outstanding goals and inspires others to be the best they can be. Rota said that can include those who are “visionary thinkers” who make Amherstburg a better place to live or work.

“This could be a business person or a professional who has shown deep caring for their employees and the residents,” she said.

The legacy category is for those past or present who have “gifted a talent or special project” for the betterment of Amherstburg. Those who have been philanthropic or those who have given in other ways over the years may fall into this category.

People are not allowed to nominate themselves and can only choose one category when nominating someone. A committee of five people will be assembled and they will judge the nominees with nominators eligible to write a justification of up to 250 words on why they nominated the person they did.

Nomination forms can be picked up either at Amherstburg town hall or can be downloaded from the town’s website by going to www.amherstburg.ca/canuckitup. Forms must be returned in full by June 9 at 4 p.m. and they can be done online, dropped off at town hall or mailed to town hall with the town hall address being 271 Sandwich St. S. and postal code N9V 2E5.

Winners will be contacted by June 16.

“People have a little over a month to think about it and get their nomination forms in,” said Rota.

The town’s eligibility requirements call for nominees to be at least 15-years-old as of January 1, 2017 and living. Current residents or those who have previously resided in Amherstburg can be considered.

New festival coming to town to celebrate Canada and Ontario’s 150th birthdays

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new festival is on its way to Amherstburg this summer in recognition of Canada 150.

From July 1 to Aug. 13, the Ontario 150 Tour will travel to six Ontario ports starting in Toronto, then on to Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg, and finishing in Brockville. Amherstburg’s event will take place Aug. 5-6 and will be known as the “Canuck It Up!” festival.

In collaboration, Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada will present the Tall Ship Appledore V and a “Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats” re-enactment that takes place at the Fort and in the streets that same weekend.

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

Manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota said the new event came about through the successful submission of a co-op grant application and in collaboration with lead organization – Water’s Edge Festival and Events based out of Toronto.

“Amherstburg is the only municipality in southwestern Ontario to be included in this commemorative tour, thus maximizing impact for visitation and economic benefit for the town,” she said.

Calling it a 150th “signature event,” Rota compared it to the Roots to Boots Festival in 2012 and the Sails to See Festival in 2013.

“We’re anticipating about 25,000 people to visit our town Aug. 5-6,” she said. “This event will be fun and everything Canadian. We just want to celebrate all the good things about Canada and about Amherstburg.”

Multiculturalism, inclusivity and participation will be the overarching themes of the event, she added. Highlights of the festival include Rhythm of the Nation; an interactive street dance and musical performance centered on nationally-renowned street artist DJ Creeasian. This artistic piece was written specifically for Canada 150.

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

There will also be “n action packed” West Coast Lumberjack Show, the world’s largest rubber duck in support of Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Amherstburg Farmers and Craft Market, local performances of all genres, a Kids Fun Zone and more.

All activities will be free and souvenirs, such as Canada 150 t-shirts and caps, will be available at the Gordon House.

Rota said the town anticipates the town to be full of activities that weekend.

“It’s going to be high energy and high fun,” she said.

The event is being recognized as a major festival locally for the Canada 150 celebrations and could be one of several this year.

“We’re always proud that Amherstburg seems to be the epicentre for large scale community events,” she said.

The Canada 150 red and white tulips, planted in the King’s Navy Yard Park last fall, should also be blooming soon and the town encourages people to come down to the park and view the tulips when they are in full bloom.

 

About 500 from Windsor-Essex County attend Holiday House Tours

 

By Ron Giofu

 

People from Amherstburg and surrounding municipalities streamed through the ten houses that were decorated and on display for the Holiday House Tours.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

The house tours, a part of the ongoing River Lights Winter Festival, saw ten houses on display with nine of them being private homes and the tenth being the Park House Museum. Monica Bunde, who helped co-ordinate the tours and was a decorator of one of the homes, said the Park House was the “tea room” stop on the tour with the other homes being clustered around the municipality.

The homes were decorated either by local businesses, by decorators or the homeowners themselves.

“We’ve expanded the footprint this year,” said Bunde. “We’ve expanded outside of the downtown core so people get the feel for all of Amherstburg.”

The homes were concentrated in different areas of the town with four, counting the Park House, being within walking distance in the Dalhousie St./Rankin Ave. area, three more within Amherst Pointe, one at the corner of Alma and Victoria St. S. and the other two in the former Anderdon Township.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

“It made it easier,” explained Bunde. “You can park and walk to see three or four homes then go to the next section.”

Bunde said they not only wanted visitors to see the homes themselves, but visit the boutiques and restaurants in Amherstburg as well.

“People have been booking lunch or dinner,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “It’s a package. It’s not just looking at the homes. It’s an economic stimulus for the town.”

Homes that were considered somewhat “iconic” were featured on this year’s Holiday House Tour. Bunde said many of the homes have been the subject of people wondering what they looked like on the inside and the house tours gave people that glimpse.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

Not only did people willingly open their homes this year, but Rota said there are already six requests from homeowners to be on the Holiday House Tours in 2017. She remarked there could soon be a waiting list for homes.

Rota added that early estimates had about 50 per cent of the attendees be from outside of Amherstburg as a lot of people from the Windsor-Essex County area converged on the town for the tours.

Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards had their home, the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast, as one of the stops on the tour. Davies, the current president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC), agreed that it was a great event that brought hundreds of people to town. She said not only did it bring the people, but it strengthened the local economy in the process.

“It’s an event, it’s an experience,” added Bunde. “It’s for everyone.”

It is estimated that 500 people turned out for this year’s Holiday House Tours.

Amherstburg showcased for Communities in Bloom national judges

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg was on display for the national Communities in Bloom judges late last week and now the town awaits to see how it did.

Sylvie Cormier from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec and Colleen Stockford from Sussex, New Brunswick were in Amherstburg last Thursday through Saturday taking a look at the town and seeing what it has to offer. They were given a look at Boblo last Thursday but the main tour was by trolley all-day Friday with stops including the Libro Centre, the Walker Aggregates quarry, Holiday Beach Conservation Area, the Canadian Coast Guard base, Fort Malden National Historic Site with lunch being in the middle of that tour at the Park House Museum.

Communities in Bloom judges Sylvie Cormier and Colleen Stockford were joined by council members and administration during a tour of Amherstburg last Friday. One of the stops was Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

Communities in Bloom judges Sylvie Cormier and Colleen Stockford were joined by council members and administration during a tour of Amherstburg last Friday. One of the stops was Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

The Saturday portion of the tour included a walk through Navy Yard Park led by parks manager Annette Zahaluk and historian Robert Honor.

“It’s fabulous,” Stockford said after Friday’s tour. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been knowledgeable but fun as well.”

Cormier said she was impressed by not only what she saw, but who she met as well.

“The people have been so kind and nice,” said Cormier. “They are proud of their city and community as well. I am very impressed.”

Stockford stated they were happy with the agenda items on the tour, but the surprises they received along the way as well. Those surprises included each of the judges getting to fire a musket while at Fort Malden.

Those who live in the area may take for granted some of the amenities Amherstburg has, added Stockford, but the town has qualities which stand out to visitors.

“You are luck to have what you have here,” she said.

Cormier pointed out the many volunteers the town has and those volunteers helped ensure the judges had a great visit.

“It takes a lot of people to put this on,” noted Stockford. “They made us feel a part of it.”

Judge Sylvie Cormier fires a musket at Fort Malden.

Judge Sylvie Cormier fires a musket at Fort Malden.

Judge Colleen Stockford fires a musket at Fort Malden.

Judge Colleen Stockford fires a musket at Fort Malden.

Amherstburg was their final stop on a two-week judging trip. Also included as part of their journey were the other towns Amherstburg is competing against in the 9,001-25,000 population category. Those include Bois-des-Filion, Quebec, South Huron, Ontario and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

The judges were impressed not only with the beauty of the town but some of the technology and industry they saw. Town officials hope that translates into success when the judges reveal their verdict at a Communities in Bloom conference in Regina Oct. 27-29.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo believed the tour of the town went well.

“We got some positive feedback from the judges,” said DiCarlo. “I think we showed them a lot of things they don’t see in other municipalities.”

While Amherstburg has a lot of natural beauty, that is something many other municipalities can boast as well with DiCarlo noting the judges were looking for more than that. He said the community involvement in Amherstburg is a big plus for the town.

“Hopefully it’s something (the judges) are taking away with them,” he said. “I think stuff like that sets us apart from other municipalities. We see it, bring it and live it.”

Seeing volunteers and community members engaged in Amherstburg “is just unbelievable to some people,” added DiCarlo, “so hopefully we showcased that today.”

Judges Colleen Stockford and Sylvie Cormier stand at the CiB floral display in Navy Yard Park with parks manager Annette Zahaluk.

Judges Colleen Stockford and Sylvie Cormier stand at the CiB floral display in Navy Yard Park with parks manager Annette Zahaluk.

Manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota and visitor information manager along with numerous members of council and administration accompanied the judges on Friday’s tour. Rota said the town appreciates the co-operation it got for the Communities in Bloom tour.

“We were very fortunate that businesses and organizations like Diageo, the quarry, the Coast Guard and others opened their doors to the judges so that we could not only share our beautiful gardens but highlight and show our industrial partners,” said Rota. “The residents got on board and it shows how much Amherstburg cares about its own community. We could not do this without our partners and residents on board. It was a huge team effort.”

Win or lose, the town had a good three days with the judges, Rota believed.

“I think Amherstburg put its best foot forward,” she said. “We think the judges were left with a good impression of Amherstburg but either way, the town looks amazing.”

Amherstburg was awarded five blooms, the highest ranking possible, in last year’s provincial competition.

Town gearing up for visit from national Communities in Bloom judges

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After the town of Amherstburg received the highest rating of “five blooms” in last year’s provincial Communities in Bloom (CiB) competition, the hope is that the feat can be repeated in this year’s national event.

Amherstburg will be competing against three other municipalities in the 9,001-25,000 population category in an attempt to see which town stacks up the best. Competing municipalities include one from Quebec – Bois-des-Filion – and two from Ontario – South Huron and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Amherstburg has drawn comparisons to Niagara-on-the-Lake in the past and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota said having them as one of Amherstburg’s competitors will be a challenge.

“Competing against Niagara-on-the-Lake does put a lot of pressure on us but we think that all of Amherstburg’s amenities and beauty are just as important as Niagara-on-the-Lake,” said Rota.

The judges come to Amherstburg July 28-30 with the main days of judging being July 29-30. Rota said the contest is far more than just about flowers and beauty, with judging categories including tidiness, urban forestry, environmental action, landscape, heritage conservation as well as floral displays.

With it being a national competition, Rota said they will be showing judges about the global presence that exists in Amherstburg through the “world class businesses” that have located here.

A flower bed in the Navy Yard Park is ready for the Communities in Bloom judges.

A flower bed in the Navy Yard Park is ready for the Communities in Bloom judges.

The Friday tour includes stops at the Libro Centre, the Walker Aggregates Quarry, Holiday Beach Conservation Area, the Park House Museum, the Canadian Coast Guard base, the south gateway water settling pond, Diageo and Fort Malden National Historic Site. The Saturday tour includes a tour of King’s Navy Yard Park, the peace sculpture and the Battle of Lake Erie monument.

“The pride, sense of community and feeling of accomplishment generated through participation are visible in communities that participate in CiB. These benefits make it a program where everyone wins,” said Rota.

Rota added that participants can benefit financially from the program through community tourism initiatives, business opportunities for the entire community, and other related projects. A valuable information exchange network allows communities to share accomplishments, best practices and projects.

All participants are showcased on the Communities in Bloom website through the “Explore our Communities” section, with a description page and a link to their respective community website. The Communities in Bloom magazine, published twice a year, also features participants and program results, as well as articles and educational content.

The town also had to prepare a community profile book to submit to the judges in advance. For residents to view the community profile book, they can visit http://www.amherstburg.ca/Event/Details/cibnational2016.

Rota also stated the town has submitted two applications for outstanding achievement awards with one being in the “Winter Life” category and the other being for its floral displays.

“I have a feeling we have a pretty good chance in at least one of those two categories for sure,” said Rota.

The judges are from Quebec and New Brunswick.

“It’s very nice to have an outsider critique our community and give us some feedback,” said Rota.

The town puts a lot of effort into the Communities in Bloom submission and appreciates the effort residents and businesses do sprucing up their own properties.

“We are very appreciative of the support we get from the entire community for this program,” she said.