December 6, 2023
Strathcona County wins Green Cities Award at Wood Buffalo Symposium
Jill Hestbak accepts the Green Cities Award from Communities in Bloom representative Anthony O'Neill.

This year’s winner of the Green Cities Award is Strathcona County in Alberta. The award was announced at the Communities in Bloom Symposium in Wood Buffalo, Alta., on Sept. 30.

“I was so happy to receive and accept the award on behalf of the county,” said Jill Hestbak, open space planning specialist with Strathcona County.

She attributes the honour to the county’s environmental framework, a robust document that aligns green initiatives the municipality intends to take and is currently taking, and shows the gaps to illustrate what could be done.

“There’s a lot of accountability built into that document as well, so I think that really just shows commitment and a willingness to improve and do what we can as an organization in the community,” Hestbak said.

Strathcona County has been active in Communities in Bloom since 1998. It also hosted the organization's annual Symposium in 2018. The county is located just east of Edmonton and has a population of about 100,000. More than half of the 1,600-square-kilometre Beaver Hills, recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, falls within the boundaries of Strathcona County.

“We have a ton of natural beauty as well as urban park systems that residents can take part in,” Hestbak said.

This was the first time Hestbak got to visit Wood Buffalo, as well as to experience a Communities in Bloom Symposium.

“It was so generally positive,” she said. “I learned so much from so many different people.”