President’s Report – Sept/Oct 2013

13.05.21-Keith.LyallPrepared by Keith Lyall

May  2012, the Special Committee for Cosmetic Pesticides released its report including 17 recommendations, the 16th of which was directed at golf but a few more are directed at applicators and may have an effect on how we purchase and apply plant health products. One important note mentions that the public believes there is a weakness in applicator training;  MOE and Industry agreed that education and training could be improved.

As the provincial election approached, this report was shelved.  Now however, things appear to be moving ahead. Recently the Honourable Minister of the Environment, Mary Polak, a member at Redwoods Golf Course approached Doug Hawley, Redwood’s Managing Director and NGCOA Past President, and asked him what golf has done to date to meet the 17 recommendations. Needless to say, our joint Environmental Advocacy Committee met shortly after. This was our second meeting as a committee and I think we were not expecting a request from the Minister so soon, but there is no doubt that the sooner we get this nailed down, the less chance of further legislation against the golf/sportsturf industry.

The focus of the meeting was to review  recommendations previously proposed to the Special Committee for Cosmetic Pesticides by AGA-BC (at the time NAGA). These recommendations included more training for certification and recertification of applicators meaning  it may become a requirement for us to have continuing educations credits (CECs) and mandatory testing every five years. As much as this may seem to some as an added time and expense to us as turf managers, this should completely remove any public doubt that training is “weak”. I truly believe the public needs assurance that we are professionals;  a good analogy would be a pharmacist, don’t think I would want medicine given to me by someone who is not fully qualified to do so.

Your joint Environmental Advocacy Committee is represented by   BCGSA, WCTA, CGSA, NGCOA and AGA directors, and makes its recommendation to the  AGA-BC Board.  A fund has been created to further this cause through continued committee interactions, hiring professional lobbyists to assist and perhaps improve  public awareness. I want to thank all those associations who contributed to this fund and I will personally ensure   this fund will not be wasted. I would like to ask the other  associations within AGA that didn’t contribute, why? I hope  they see the value in what we are trying to accomplish and that this industry has a rare opportunity to work with and make recommendations to our provincial government. I’m certain  the Ontario golf industry was not provided  the same opportunity.

It is important to know the amount of effort that goes into initiatives such as this and although the WCTA is fortunate to have staff working on its behalf, a lot of the work falls to the individual director - a volunteer  uses either their own personal time or work time (in many cases, both) to accomplish initiatives that benefit our industries. I can assure you that the decisions made are with a focus on benefiting all members.

As this issue continues to evolve, it is important now more than ever to have a united front.  Splinter groups will only feed public perception of an unregulated industry. If there are individuals out there that believe these associations are not working hard on the issues facing our industry, or are strictly thinking self-preservation, please feel free to give me a call.

The WCTA was approached by MOE early in the last decade to manage the CEC program for applicator recertification.  The program needed to  provide enough training and record-keeping  for our members to maintain certification without testing.  Bob Wick,  former WCTA Executive Director and the board at that time, approved this and made an agreement to manage the BCLNAs member’s CECs at little cost to them.  I believe this was another good initiative  but I have recently wondered why we did not extend that invitation to the BCGSA members. In the name of BCGSA and WCTA working closer together, I am going to propose this as an item for vote at our next Board meeting. I have little doubt that it would not pass and hope that reduces any animosity any individual may have based on loyalties.

I wish you all a successful rest of the golf season and hope that you will all have fantastic fall. Sun Peaks skiing is set to start in 11 short weeks from now, hope to see you up!

Keith Lyall