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B.C. superintendents press urgent action to retain use of pesticides


November 16, 2011
By Mike Jiggens


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The British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association has made an urgent appeal to its members to voice their concerns with their local members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) to prevent pesticides from being outlawed on golf courses.

The provincial government has enacted a consultation exercise to determine if legislation should be adopted which would ban the use of all pesticide products, including on golf courses. The exercise is similar to that which occurred in Ontario about four years ago.

With the consultation process open only until Dec. 16, the BCGSA, backed by the Western Canada Turfgrass Association, is urging all superintendents to get their messages across to their respective MLAs as well as club members and staff before the deadline.winterweb

Larry Olson, superintendent at the Penticton Golf & Country Club, has written a message for his MLA, and has urged his fellow association members to use it as a template to follow suit with their elected officials. Davin Marr, president of the BCGSA, suggests members tailor the template to their own golf courses and forward the information to not only their MLAs, but to members and staff of their respective golf courses so that they, too, can voice their individual concerns.

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Below is the text of Olson's letter as well as a photograph showing the impact of winter kill on untreated turf on a golf course in the Okanagan.

URGENT MESSAGE to Members and Staff of the Penticton Golf and Country Club

Nov. 9, 2011

The Province of British Columbia is currently conducting a consultation exercise to determine if it should adopt legislation prohibiting the use of all pesticides.  Without the use of fungicides (which are pesticides) snow mold would wipe out our golf course every winter leaving us with terrible playing conditions and costly repairs every spring. The disease damage would vary from year to year depending on the weather, as would the recovery time.  I would anticipate on an average year that it would take us until mid-June to get back to the conditions that you have grown accustomed to. 

The consultation process is only open until Dec. 16, 2011 and the golf industry needs your help to ensure that golf courses will not be prevented from using these products.

Although we make every effort to have the strongest stand of turf possible by practicing good IPM (integrated plant management) there are times when it is necessary to use pesticides. Even with the best water management, topdressing, aerifying, fertility and mowing practices in order to maintain acceptable playing conditions, pesticides are needed.  In fact there are some fungal diseases that if left untreated can wipe out a green in as little as 24 hours.

All pesticides used at the Penticton Golf and Country Club are federally registered products approved for use on golf courses and these products are applied only by provincially licensed professionals. 

Our position at the Penticton Golf and Country Club with respect to pesticide use is that registered products used by licensed technicians pose no unacceptable risk when used according to manufacturers’ directions. Because pesticides are very expensive they are used only as a last resort to save turf. 

As your superintendent I am asking for your support in making your voice heard to the provincial government to let them know all of the reasons why golf is important to you, the benefits to the environment, the economy and the charitable components of our province.  You are invited to participate in the consultation by completing an on-line questionnaire or by sending a written submission to the Committee.  Following the consultation, the Committee will issue a report to the Legislative Assembly recommending possible changes to provincial laws concerning the use and sale of pesticides.  

Thank you, and please, if you value your playing conditions, get involved BEFORE Dec. 16, 2011.

Go to: http://www.leg.bc.ca/pesticidescommittee/ 

Larry Olson                           
Superintendent                            
Penticton Golf and Country Club       
super@pentictongolf.ca                   
250-492-2819