Ministry of Environment Report Indicates Majority of BC Golf Courses Non-Compliant With New IPM Rules

Via BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy

The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy amended the Integrated Pest Management Regulation in December 2015, with the amendments not coming into force until July 1, 2016 in order to give those affected time to come into compliance.

These amendments included changes to the requirements for the use of pesticides on landscaped areas of private land, including most golf courses.  The requirements include:

Having a pesticide use license and certified applicators on staff for application of non-excluded pesticides,
Keeping a record of each pesticide application and submitting an annual summary of pesticide use to the ministry,
Notifying the public of pesticide applications, and
Following the principles of IPM.

In an effort to ensure golf courses could come into compliance with the amended regulation, the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy developed guidance material that was published on the ministry website and also presented at golf course industry conferences in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Beginning in June 2017, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy conducted a compliance audit of BC golf courses to ensure that the industry is following the environmental and human health protection requirements outlined in the Integrated Pest Management Act and Regulation.  Amendments made to the IPM Regulation in 2016 increased requirements for golf courses using pesticides by requiring licensing, training & certification for pesticide applicators, record keeping, posting of notification of pesticide use, and using the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).

Approximately 318 BC golf courses were identified however only 126 of these courses held valid pesticide use licenses.  Not all golf courses in BC were aware of the changes to the Regulation and therefore some had likely not yet obtained a licence.  Therefore, ministry inspectors planned inspections of both golf courses that held valid licenses and golf courses that did not hold valid licenses but were likely to be using pesticides as part of their turf management programs.

IPM Officers completed 37 inspections between June 6 and November 1, 2017 representing approximately 12% of golf courses in BC with inspections occurring in almost all regions of the province.  Twenty inspections were of licensed golf courses and 17 inspections were of unlicensed golf courses.

Some bad news:

68% of golf courses were out of compliance with at least one aspect of the Regulation and were issued an advisory of non-compliance.
Of the 17 unlicensed golf courses inspected, 35% were fully in compliance with the Regulation and 65% were out of compliance with at least one aspect of the Regulation
Of the 20 licensed golf courses inspected, 30% were fully in compliance with the Regulation and 70% were out of compliance with at least one aspect of the Regulation

The good news:

the required submission of an annual summary of pesticide use was completed by 93% of golf courses licensed in BC in 2017.  These summaries generally confirmed the information provided by the superintendents interviewed regarding pesticide use targets.
Licensed golf courses had relatively high (>70%) compliance rates for record-keeping and notification requirements.
Remarkably, a 100% compliance rate was found at licensed golf courses for the IPM requirements, demonstrating strong and ingrained IPM practices across this sector.

All non-compliant golf courses received an advisory of non-compliance, which is the lowest level of enforcement response. This in part reflects the fact that non-compliances were relatively minor in nature and that this industry is still adjusting to the new requirements.

Statement by the Ministry:

 “The BC golf course industry is committed to continual improvement in IPM techniques, including industry association funding for turfgrass research. In 2002, “IPM for Turfgrass Manager: A guide to disease, insect and weed management in BC” was produced by the BC Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA), and this is a valuable resource tailored to conditions in BC. A major revision of this manual by a BC Allied Golf Association steering committee is currently underway to ensure it contains current and relevant information.”

The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy will continue to conduct compliance inspections of golf courses, with a focus on golf courses found to be out of compliance during this audit as well as those that have never been inspected.  All inspections and enforcement actions conducted will be conducted as per the Ministry’s Compliance & Enforcement Policy and Procedures.  The inspections conducted in 2017 revealed that while many golf courses were aware of the changes and had taken the appropriate steps to ensure compliance, a number of golf courses were not aware of the changes to the regulation, indicating the need for ongoing outreach and compliance activities.  The BC golf course associations have been instrumental in helping to communicate the new rules to their members and the ministry wishes to thank these associations for their ongoing promotional efforts to ensure compliance.

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