Turf & Rec

Features Government Affairs
B.C. golf superintendents hope MLAs get the message


October 6, 2011
By Mike Jiggens


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GOLF course superintendents in British Columbia were rallying to make a
pre-emptive strike against the provincial government in the early fall,
hoping to collectively convince their individual MLAs and the
provincial government in general of the importance for the continued
use of chemical pest control products on their properties.

Turf & Recreation was going to press for this issue at the time the “call to arms” went out. Larry Olson, superintendent at Penticton Golf & Country Club, had urged his fellow superintendents throughout British Columbia to reach their respective MLAs, to get them to understand what the province’s golf courses are apt to look like in an era of outlawed pesticide use.

In his memorandum to his fellow superintendents, Olson said a provincial cosmetic pesticide ban—similar to that already in place in Ontario—is imminent, but added a much darker likelihood is that any exemptions granted to the golf industry would be temporary, and courses might have to eventually function without the use of any pesticides whatsoever.

A private member’s bill, brought forward by the leader of the opposition, was defeated, but another by the sitting Liberal government has a better chance of getting through, Olson projected.

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“From what I understand, it is inevitable that the Liberals will be bringing a bill to the Legislature,” he wrote to his colleagues in the industry. “We as superintendents MUST explain to the government what this will do to the golf industry in British Columbia.”

With the fall sitting of the provincial Legislature scheduled to begin Oct. 3, time was of the essence for the British Columbia golf superintendents to reach out to their MLAs.

Olson urged his fellow superintendents to “keep things simple” when meeting with their elected representatives, suggesting most MLAs are likely to know little or nothing about the science of turfgrass maintenance.

Among the key points Olson stressed needed conveying:

• without pesticides, golf courses will succumb to dead or seriously damaged turf

• dead turf will result in fewer golfers wishing to play, hurting a golf course’s ability to turn a profit

• reduced revenue equals job losses

• fewer golfers equals a negative impact on hotel bookings and reduced restaurant patronage

• pesticides are applied by licensed applicators and rates are followed according to label instructions

The bottom-line message Olson said needed to be relayed to British Columbia’s MLAs is that measures taken which would negatively impact golf will directly result in a depressed economy in MLAs’ own home ridings. Let’s hope the province’s politicians will weigh everything at stake before making any rash decisions that would cripple a popular activity steeped in tradition and might potentially hurt other industry.