Summary of May 7th Meeting With MOE Staff Allied Golf Association of BC Environmental Advocacy Committee met with BC Ministry of Environment staff May 7, 2014.  In attendance were:

Keith Lyall, Chair
Dean Piller, BCGSA President
Jerry Rousseau, WCTA Executive Director
Daphne Dolhaine, Manager, Integrated Pest Management Section
Gwen Lohbrunner, Provincial Pesticide Licence Officer

The meeting was requested by Ministry of Environment staff as a follow-up to the April 30th, in-person meeting between AGA-BC representatives and the Minister of Environment, Mary Polak.

As stated to the Environment Minister, it was explained to staff that golf course operators need some form of long-term certainty regarding access to federally regulated plant protection products.  The term ‘cosmetic use’ does not apply as these products are integral to carrying on the business of golf. 

Understanding that a future change of government could mean changes to rules that govern use of these products, the BC golf industry wants to ensure golf courses are held to a very high standard of environmental stewardship so that unnecessary restrictive regulation is not imposed.  It is seen by the committee as being advantageous to government, industry and the public, to govern our own members in this regard.

To help achieve a high standard, a supplemental category of pesticide applicator certification has been suggested.  While not a replacement for the current ‘landscape’ classification, an additional level of accreditation would ensure golf course personnel have been trained in criteria designed specifically for the use of pest control products on golf course grounds. 

Some examples of golf course specific training could include:

• Use of fungicides
• Re-entry intervals
• Buffer zones
• Use of wetting agents
• Use of growth regulators

It was suggested that a short, 30 minute exam could be developed based on a list of competencies put forward by the golf industry.  An educational seminar could be designed as preparation for writing the test.  Prerequisite is a valid landscape category pesticide certificate.  Logistics questions arose such as:

• Who handles the study material?
• Who collects fees?
• Is the seminar mandatory?  How is it delivered?  Who teaches these?
• Who administers the test?
• How often are the updates?

The committee asked MOE staff if creating a ‘golf certification’ category would require a change to the laws or regulation.  Answer – it would only require an internal policy change and there are already several other similar examples within other categories of pesticide certification.

After some general discussion, the first step in the process was determined as follows:

• The golf industry outlines competencies/standards for a supplemental ‘golf certification’ category by November 2014. 

  • Create a DACUM chart of competencies required for golf course applicators 
  • Outline what should be tested 
  • Create a sample exam 
  • Determine delivery mechanism(s), ie. self-study, in-person seminars, webinars, etc. 
  • Have a general idea as to costs and responsibilities of both government and industry

With that, a timeline for 'product launch' was contemplated.  It was determined that April 1, 2016 would be a reasonable date for implementation.  It was noted that the program would need to be functional by January 1, 2016 to make this work.  The ‘tool kit’ would need to be ready by November, 2015.

Discussion and Questions regarding proposed regulatory amendments:

Env Committee: When will new regulations be implemented?
MOE Staff: Licencing requirement will be implemented April 1, 2015 at the very earliest.

Env Committee: How many BC golf courses already have pesticide use licence?
MOE Staff: 10 - eight on public land and two on private land.

Env Committee: Are grants available to help develop a golf certification program?
MOE Staff: Typically, industry is expected to pay for this type of thing.

Env Committee: Has MOE considered the golf industry request to look at lowering the $250 pesticide use licence fee? 
MOE Staff: It’s very complicated to change this type of fee structure.  The concept of lowering fees based on additional revenue coming in due to all golf courses being required to pay the fee is acknowledged.

Env Committee: What’s happening with the current exam and study materials?
MOE Staff: This is being worked on and changes are expected to be phased in at the end of 2014.  There will be a new study kit and exam as current is outdated.  The books are being consolidated into a single resource with a reorganization of materials.  It will look different and include the new regulations.  The exam will remain open book.