It’s the third year in a row the Middle Cove couple has volunteered to grade towns in the province entered in the competition – this time those who fall in the approximately 2,500 to 5,000 population range.
The Southern Gazette caught up with the group, which also included Coun. Leonard Pittman, Recreation Director Dominic Lundrigan and Petrina Power, the town’s executive assistant, about mid-morning at Ville Marie Gardens.
By then, the judges had already visited the Municipal Centre, the Blivet sewage system on Bayview Street, the Mortier Bay Lookout, the Farmers’ Market and tourist chalet, recreational facilities around the Track and Field Complex and the fire department’s Heritage Museum, with another 10 or so stops left on the day’s agenda.
At Ville Marie Garden, as Mr. Lane and Ms. Tulk intently scribbled down notes, the sound of equipment operated by town workers whizzed in the background.
Mr. Lane acknowledged his experience judging Tidy Towns has been excellent and said travelling the province has been full of surprises.
“Because it’s always someone from the community taking you around, they know the really nice spots to show off. It’s the kind of stuff that, as a visitor, you might not know unless you had someone to point it out to you.”
Ms. Tulk agreed.
“I’m like the biggest tourism person ever now. It’s like, ‘Oh my God! You’ve got to go here.’”
Tidy Towns is among the programs offered to communities in the province through Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL).
Participating towns are evaluated based on eight criteria, including tidiness, environmental awareness, community involvement, natural and cultural heritage conservation, turf and groundcovers, tree/urban forest management, floral displays and landscaped areas.
The couple was headed to Bonavista this past Saturday, off to judge Wabana on Bell Island this weekend and then wrap up with Bay Roberts and Carbonear.
“Because it’s always someone from the community taking you around, they know the really nice spots to show off. It’s the kind of stuff that, as a visitor, you might not know unless you had someone to point it out to you.” - – Ryan Lane
Mr. Lane indicated the pair decided to take a bit more time this year.
“In past years, we’ve done it all in like a week and a half. This time we’re breaking it up in chunks.”
After returning home and pouring over their notes, Ms. Tulk indicated it can take her and Mr. Lane several hours to complete an evaluation.
“Last year, we incorporated a wedding as well, so we put like over 4,000 kilometres on my car in 13 days.”
From Ville Marie Gardens, the group dropped by St. Gabriel’s Hall, which has a hectic weekend of activities ahead as the building’s restoration is celebrated, and was spruced up Friday for a wedding that evening.
Then it was a quick dart across the road to the Marystown Heritage Museum.
Coun. Pittman indicated he’s seen the benefits of the Tidy Towns program since joining council.
“To me, it seems every year that I’ve been involved with it, it seems everything is getting a little better all the time. People are taking a little bit more pride.”
As for Mr. Lane’s early observations on Marystown, he seemed to be enthused.
“It’s really great. It’s kind of weird because this year a couple of the communities we’re doing are sort of hubs for their region, and Marystown sort of really falls into that sort of category. So you see a lot of services and that kind of stuff that you’d wouldn’t see in some other areas, because they service a larger population than actually lives in the town.
“We’re only half way through the day yet. We’ve got all kinds left to see.”