Turf & Rec

Features Government Affairs
Maybe it’s time to revisit the need for public meetings


December 6, 2013
By Mike Jiggens


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Another case of apathy has been reported with regard to the government-mandated public meetings which golf courses must conduct in order to keep their exception status from the Ontario law which bans cosmetic pestidice use on turfgrass.

The recent annual meeting at the Grenadier Island Golf Course in Rockport attracted a grand total of two people, both of whom were meant to be there: the IPM agent and the golf course superintendent.

That’s it! No one from the general public attended in spite of the golf course having advertised the meeting in the local newspaper in accordance with regulations.

Turn to page 50 to read IPM agent Bob Cumming’s take on this waste of time and money.

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What was particularly tragic about the meeting at Grenadier Island was that superintendent Jeff Lynch missed the funeral of a relative so that he could attend the event to relay to the public what the golf course has done (or not done) in terms of its pesticide usage.

With no one bothering to attend, his time would have been better spent at the funeral. He put time which should have been spent with family aside so that he could do his due diligence as a professional.

This seems to be emerging as a common trend at these public meetings, from what I’ve heard. I’d be curious to know if there are any golf courses in Ontario that have had healthy attendance numbers or if any constructive or interesting dialogue has been exchanged.

If not, then something seriously needs to be changed with regard to these mandated regulations. Golf courses are hurting enough as it is, and to be placing expensive advertisements in their local newspapers—particularly in the larger cities—is money being flushed down the toilet. It’s been a couple of years now since these meetings have been in place, and it’s time to revisit things. There has to be a better way.

Once upon a time, several years ago, I had absolutely no use for synthetic turf on sports fields. I didn’t care for what seemed to me a “plastic” look to them and I felt they came up extremely short in terms of safety and playability.

But the industry has come a long way, and my feelings about synthetic turf have thus changed. There is a place for synthetic turf fields, and the product available on the market today is much superior to that of a couple of decades ago.

I had the opportunity in October to see several of these fields up close and personal at the University of Guelph, including its Alumni Stadium which the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats borrowed this year for its “home” games. The day also included a couple of excellent presentations by Turf Industry’s Mark Nicholls and Dol Turf Restoration’s Gord Dol, who spoke about what is involved in the construction, installation and maintenance of these fields.

Synthetic turf fields are a huge investment for municipalities and can go a long way toward giving their natural fields the break they need to recover from usual wear.

Because their lifespan is limited—about 10 years—they deserve arguably more attention than natural fields in order for municipalities to realize a good return on their investment. Read more on pages 6 and 12.