Allied Golf Association BC - Spring 2014 Update

13.02.10-AGA-BC1 copyBy Trevor Smith

Having toured much of the Province over the last two months, I am anticipating a slow but productive start to the season.  It was a difficult a winter for some and is now a busy spring, but it would appear for the most part, that clubs have emerged relatively unscathed and prepared for the business of golf. 

AGA-BC has had a busy winter and spring also, outlining three pillars of golf industry involvement:

1. Economic
2. Environment
3. Golf tourism

These 3 pillars will become the focus when we speak with politicians for the second time in four years at our planned, ‘Golf Awareness Day’, scheduled for April 30th at the legislature in Victoria.

Representatives from your associations will travel to the provincial capital to showcase the economic, social and environmental benefits of golf, locally, regionally and worldwide.  This opportunity to present the golf industry to government is a strategic commitment, reinforcing the positive impact golf has in British Columbia.  It is critical the individual golf sectors come together as a group and tell our story to our elected officials.  I mean to over emphasize that fact because if they don’t know you, they won’t notice you!

AGA-BC fully supports the WCTA’s new initiative to promote the ‘First Green – Links as Labs’ program that incorporates science, math and the game of golf, effectively turning the golf course into a classroom (http://www.thefirstgreen.org). 

The Canadian launch of this program, which started in Washington State more than a decade ago, will be held May 5th at the Vancouver Golf Club, hosted by Superintendent Dave Kennedy and Assistant Pete Rodriguez.  Grade 8 teacher Heidi Gawehns will be leading a class of students from Pitt River middle school to participate in this event.  I am very excited about this opportunity to engage children and the local community with the intricacies of golf and golf management.

The Environmental Advocacy Committee has met a number of times, discussing proposed regulatory changes affecting golf with the following excerpts from the most recent meeting with Ministry of Environment (MOE) staff: 

“With the Ministry intending to have changes enacted in two stages between spring of 2014 and 2015, it was quickly noted that the implementation timeframe was relatively short”. 

For golf courses, changes to the Regulation would mean the following:

1. All golf courses, whether on private land or public will need to have a Pesticide Use Licence for a fee of $250 per year.

2. All persons spraying pesticides will need to have a Pesticide Applicators Certificate or under the proposed regulations, an ‘assistant applicator’ certification. 

3. The alternative for golf courses is to have a service license contractor apply products on courses who may not be able to hire certified applicators or maintain a use license.  A Pesticide Service Licence is needed for anyone spraying pesticides for a fee for service based business

Since the November 28th meeting, MOE had not provided any update until prompted via email on March 17.  On March 18th, the following was stated by Provincial Pesticide Licence Officer, Gwendolyn Lohbrunner:

“The process has been delayed, so any changes that occur will be later in the year (we do not have an exact time yet). The consultation process generated a great deal of response which took extra time to review. We will update you as soon as anything new comes forward.”

The committee met April 1st, identifying two main action items at present:

1. Write a letter to the Ministry of Environment regarding a separate classification of pesticide certification for golf.

2. Create resource material, to be called a ‘grass-roots kit’, to help individual golf courses lobby local politicians.  The plan is to have a government relations firm create the kit after the upcoming Golf Awareness Day in Victoria.

The next meeting of the Environmental Advocacy Committee takes place May 20th.    Comments or questions may be directed to Committee Chair, Keith Lyall at klyall@sunpeaksresort.com 

To close, I would like to mention that much work has been accomplished by this group in a most professional and positive manner.  It is important to note that growing the game remains amongst the highest of priorities for AGA-BC, with committees working hard on strategies to increase golf participation.  There is much still to do and your continuing support of the Allied Golf Association – BC is much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Trevor Smith President AGA-BC