As with all small towns we have had many proud moments, all of which have been a result of the participation and hard work of community volunteers… students, seniors, businesses and organizations have all worked together to make amazing things happen. Community participation has drawn our community together to create and sustain our Curling Rink, Skating Arena, Swimming Pool, Millenium Park, Avena Gradens, and the Community Fruit Orchard. It would be a shame not to include some of our most recent proud moments.
Communities in Bloom
Communities in Bloom is a provincial and national program recognizing community beautification, heritage, and environmental awareness, green spaces, diversity, originality of landscaping, general tidiness and community involvement in the project.
Some of our community accomplishments have been designing and landscaping the Town Administration Center, the three entrance signs into Ituna, the Ituna Fruit Orchard and Avena Gardens. Through the CN Eco Connexions from the Ground Up and the Agrium Community Green Spaces grants, we were able to plant an orchard in the heart of the town which consists of 250 various fruit trees and shrubs. Our survival rate of the fruit trees after the first year was 99.9%. The second project completed with these grants is Avena Gardens. It was designed to enhance the area around the giant oat stem (Ituna is the birthplace of the Saskatchewan Oat Growers Association). Avena Gardens is situated directly across from the Town Administration center and when you stroll through this park your senses will come alive with the 270 various lilacs, roses, perennials and shrubs planted there. The Orchard and Avena Gardens were once abandoned brown lots but now contain a beautiful mini park and a fruit orchard which only enhance our community more. The community of Ituna also has a very picturesque 9 hole golf course and is environmentally conscious and have installed a solar heated system for the swimming pool at the Ituna & District Regional Park.
…….Heritage continues to be recognized on Main Street. The Millennium Park acknowledges all community members in 2000 that built and celebrated the millennium together. A 1917 GARR Steamer is situated along Main Street and has been enhanced with a new sign, a banner and barrels filled with flowers. CrossRoads Park is just kitty corner and here the farm machinery of our ancestors is displayed. A local artist created a mural on one side of a large grocery store which depicts the history of Ituna from years gone by. The Museum also utilized their signage to display a mural filled with history of the area. The community’s heritage can be seen throughout the community.
Our streets are lined with hanging baskets and along the sidewalks half barrels are filled with flowers. The committee and volunteers plant the baskets in May, place them in June and start the regular watering schedule that will be continued until late fall.
Benches were added to Avena Gardens, Ituna Fruit Orchard, CrossRoads Park and the Cenotaph to welcome everyone to sit and enjoy the scenery. The cenotaph is a work in progress as we are working towards having enough funds to establishing a permanent monument recognizing all the veterans from this area.
Our municipal council sponsors the communities in bloom committee financially and is very supportive of all the volunteers who take the time in their busy schedules to help and promote our beautiful community.
In the years 2013 to 2016 Ituna took part in the Communities in Bloom competitions and the community is proud to have placed well in each year. e have competed provincially for 5 years and have been awarded 4 blooms for 3 years and then 5 blooms in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 we competed nationally in our population category and won 5 bloom bronze in the Circle of Excellence.
In 2013, 2014, 2015 Ituna was entered in the Saskatchewan Provincial Communities in Bloom Program. In 2016 Ituna was entered in the National competition for communities of up to 4,500 population category, along with Bruderheim AB, Hanna AB, Maple Creek SK, Windsor NS, Witless Bay NL and Valhalla Centre AB
In 2014, “: Remarkable to see a community so neat and tidy everywhere we looked (from allentrances to the community)….. You are to be commended on the research and planning you’ve done as a committee in preparation for the various parks & gardens for all to enjoy in your community. Properties all over thecommunity are behind the CiB movement and trimmed their lawns, clipped their hedges, and removedany litter from the streets. Super eye pleasing community!
In 2015 , “Keep up the good work. Your community is a standard that all communities should strive to attain…..A very, very tidy and well looked after community. Cemeteries are amazing and ranks among the best we have seen. Institutions have done a good job, i.e. Sunshine Manor, the tidied up the front area of the school, the campground and the golf club…..It is good to see that the town is using solar heating at the pool and that the regional park maintenance takes such a keen interest in maintaining the system. “
In 2016, Ituna placed first nationally in the Circle of Excellence with 5 bronze blooms. After spending a few days in the community of Ituna, the judges wanted to be very clear that Communities in Bloom is “not just about flower baskets”. The judges talked about the six criteria that each community is judged by. The criteria are: Tidiness, Environment, Heritage, Urban Forestry, Floral Displays and Landscape.
The judges were very impressed that Ituna is strong in all six categories and they emphasized the importance of maintaining the strengths and then working on weaknesses…….
Avena Gardens & the Community Fruit Orchard
It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when we work together. The Oat Stem Committee started with a plan to create and display a landmark of the oat stem to commemorate the birthplace of the The Prairie Oat Growers Association. With the help of the Town of Ituna, Centennial Committee, POGA, Communities in Bloom, CN EcoConnexions, Agrium, Tree Canada, Sask Energy and personal and business contributions and volunteers, Ituna created two beautiful landscaped areas “Avena Gardens and the Community Fruit Orchard” for generations to enjoy. Community residents, including the Ituna Communities in Bloom Committee spent countless volunteer hours in order to make these projects a reality.
The Oat Stem landmark in Avena Gardens pays tribute to the oat grain as an important and historical crop type for our prairie region and recognizes that ‘Ituna is the birthplace of the Prairie Oat Growers Association, representing the three prairie provinces. The three stem oat plant sculpture was designed, built and installed by Mr. Dennis Muzyka. It is is 30 feet high and approximately 30 feet wide.
The Community Orchard became a reality when more than 150 volunteers with shovels in hand, came together in pouring rain, to plant 270 fruit trees, including several apple varieties, pear, saskatoon,
Kraft Hockeyville 2017
In 2017, one of our proudest moments was being one of the top 10 finalists for the title of Kraft Hockeyville. The nomination was made by residents Sean and Tamara Trefiak, who so aptly captured the spirit and desire of Ituna to become Canada’s Kraft Hockeyville for 2017. Their nomination reads as below….
“…….When the weather starts to turn the community of Ituna and surrounding area’s countless volunteers begin to stir. From pulling out hoses and spraying down the ice surface to coordinating what events and tournaments will be held, for the next four months our rink becomes a central hub for our community. We house hockey clinics, a Boxing Day tournament, and ladies night to name a few. A quarter of land is farmed by volunteers. The seed , inputs and equipment are donated raising funds for our rink. From a gathering place to watch kids skate their first game, to a night on the town (wings included), this is where memories are made. Hockey is where our children mold fundamental skills through a game that will help them succeed for years to come. Teaching them sportsmanship, dedication, drive and above all else inclusion. Here it doesn’t matter your age or gender from pre novice through to recreation league or just a night of shinny, hockey brings our community together. As one of the last standing “Deiner” style rinks in the province (Built in 1962) which includes natural ice these funds would benefit greatly. As our rink is in dire need of upgrade and beyond repair, the funds would go towards helping execute a thought out and meticulous plan of building a new arena. This would include but not be limited to a safe and sound structure, new ice surface, capabilities to have ice not dependent on seasonal weather and separate female/male dressing rooms. Sustainably we would carry over some of our existing equipment including our boards, glass, furnaces and kitchen equipment. If we cannot upgrade our area we will soon be forced to condemn our current facilities. If our arena is left in its current state soon we will have to travel outside of our community to participate in the game we love. Team sizes will be bigger with not everyone getting the chance to play. The cost to participate will also increase, which for many families is not attainable.
Our town may be small but it is full of passion for the sport of hockey and gleaming with community pride. You can’t get to far walking through the local grocery store without someone asking you “Is there anything going on at the rink this week?”. Every Monday morning after a weekend of hockey games coffee row is buzzing around about all the action that went on down at the arena. The arena is the place where young boys and girls can become local heroes and dream of one day making the big leagues. Becoming the next Kraft Hockeyville will ensure our children and future generations will have a facility to play the game they love for years to come. Let’s keep the town talking and make Ituna the next Kraft Hockeyville”…..
The initial voting took place on March 12th and 13th. Individuals across Canada and even around the world could vote as many times as they wished and we were grateful to the efforts of so many who voted for us. A crowd gathered at the arena for the announcement and when the results were tabulated, Ituna was one of the top 2 finalists, the other being O’Leary, PEI. That win guaranteed Ituna $100,000 for arena upgrades and the chance to host an NHL pre-season hockey game.
In the weeks that followed, Ituna was a hub of excitment. From homes and businesses that displayed hockey sweaters, street signs and window painting encouraging the community to sausage makers and perogy pinchers preparing for the announcement on April 1. Social media was abuzz asking for all to vote as many times as possible on March 19 and 20th so that Ituna could become Hockeyville 2017 on April 1st. On that day, the arena was alive with TV Media from Hockey Night in Canada, local hockey players past and present, and over a thousand excited people who had come to enjoy the atmosphere, eat perogies and sausage and await the big announcement. At stake was the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game and receive $100,000 in arena upgrades.
Though the most votes went to O’Leary, PEI, we were so proud to have come in second, for which we received a much needed $100,000 for rink upgrades. We are so proud of the community spirit initiated by the event and we are so grateful to all those across Canada and even around the world who spent hours voting for our community.