Proposed ROPS Amendments a Tangled Issue

As published by the Western Canadian Turfgrass Association

September 23, 2019
prepared by Jerry Rousseau

In many ways, proposed amendments to the OH&S regulation requiring ROPS on golf carts is one of the most tangled issues I’ve worked on. Prior to the end of the industry consultation period last October, there was very little warning of WorksafeBC’s proposed changes, not to mention the regulation is extremely complicated.

Allied Golf Association of BC | ROPS Amendments

Interpreting the 45 page document, packed with new definitions, chronic circular references and ambiguity contrasted by hyper-detail, has been challenging. When reviewing proposed new rules, it’s been important to keep in mind the regulation oversees worker safety across all industries in the province, not just golf.

The WCTA has taken a lead role, working on the ROPS issue independently and through the Allied Golf Association of BC. A working group consisting of Andy Hedley of GolfBC, Trevor Smith, AGA-BC President, and myself met with WorkSafeBC policy analysts in person this past June; our goal was to review and thoroughly understand implications to the golf industry so that an advocacy strategy could be developed.

We put forward a lot of questions:

• What’s driving proposed changes?
• Have there been issues with worker safety on golf courses related to golf carts?
• Are there any statistics or data you can share?
• Is golf being captured inadvertently?
• Is there precedent for this regulation as it applies to golf carts in any other jurisdiction?
• Could a corporate event waiver be created so that corporate tournament participants are exempt from the WorkSafeBC requirements?

And several industry concerns/comments:

• proposed amendments create a tremendous and potentially overwhelming economic hardship to BC golf course operators;
• injury statistics are misleading as they capture all industries;
• lack of precedent in any other jurisdiction at this time;
• proposed amendments exceed current engineering / availability;
• potential for individual WorkSafe officer interpretation creating un-even playing field;
• enforcement improbable;
• other implications, ie. training, supervision, lights, fire extinguishers, hard hats, etc.
• any perceived risk to golf course employees and/or non-golf course employees considered to be at work while playing golf can be better addressed through management.

Recently, a flurry of media coverage ensued after release of an opposition MLA letter to BC Tourism Minister Lisa Beare supporting golf industry concerns. Shortly after, the first mainstream print article appeared, written by Black Press’s political columnist, Tom Fletcher and titled ‘Seat belt requirement a double bogey, B.C. golf industry says’. Picked up by Global News several days later, video journalist Kylie Stanton presented a piece called, ‘A very stupid idea: Industry slams proposed golf cart seat belt rules’, run as a live segment on September 4th and 5th.

Initial media coverage implied WorkSafeBC would rescind its proposal to make rollover protection mandatory on golf carts while the Global segment quotes WorkSafeBC spokesperson Ralph Eastman saying, “Based on stakeholder feedback, WorkSafeBC intends to limit the proposed changes to golf-course workers only, and workers in other industries where golf carts may be used. The proposed changes would not affect the public or golfers.”

It goes on to say “There are indications that WorkSafeBC is backing down from proposed new regulations B.C.’s golf courses say would have been disastrous,” however neither the WCTA nor the Allied Golf Association of BC has received confirmation from WorkSafe that the issue is dead. Rather, the two groups were told that feedback would be considered and if there was “more than a tweak to the proposed amendments,” another round of industry and public consultation would be required before going to the WorkSafe Board of Directors for a final decision.

Further thoughts:

• There is a lot more lobbying in front of us. While opposition party support is helpful and I’m glad the WCTA’s work on this issue was put to good use, the golf industry needs written confirmation from either the Minister or WorkSafeBC or both, that golf carts will be exempt from any ROPS requirement.

• Media coverage is a mixed blessing in that it generates awareness but the ‘stupid idea’ segment may not bode well for our continued discussions with WorkSafe. Down the road we will be dealing with hardhats, steel toe boots or some other issue so it’s probably a good idea to keep things cordial.

• Troubling me most is WorkSafe’s comments, along with those from the BC Labour Minister Harry Bains, focusing on worker safety, ie. the new rules won’t affect golfers. But considering that all golf carts, at some point, are serviced, washed, parked, shunted, fueled and stored by workers, mandatory ROPS and seatbelts required for employee protection will mean ROPS on all golf carts and will therefore capture golfers consequently.

Another meeting with WorkSafeBC representatives is being scheduled for 2nd week of October. We will continue providing updates and perspective on this important issue. Questions or comments can be sent to me at exec.director@wctaturf.com.

News From The NGCOA Of Canada

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Join us in Whistler!

Mark your calendar! The NGCOA Canada’s Golf Business Canada Conference and Trade Show is being held right here in BC this year! Join us November 17-19, 2016 in Whistler at the Fairmont Chateau whom is out host hotel and also the site of this year’s conference activities. We look forward to seeing everyone there for three days of educational sessions, trade show, keynote speakers, social events, and networking opportunities with your peers from across the country.

Take a Kid to the Course

The NGCOA Canada is proud to announce that Take a Kid to the Course is now available to its’ members in two formats for the 2016 season. Take a Kid to the course is entering its’ 14th season and has given 335,000 juniors an opportunity to golf for free. Member facilities that opt to be included in this program may permit a junior (age 16 or under) to play a round of golf for free when playing with an adult whom paid a green fee. Take a Kid to the course kicks off on July 4th and will run for the entire week, or new this year the facility may opt to extend this program over the golf season. Please click here for further info and to register your facility (NGCOA Canada members only), a marketing kit will be sent out to the participating courses.

Golf Datatech Retail Reporting

The NGCOA Canada has partnered with Golf Datatech to expand its research portfolio to include Retail Benchmarking Reports.

Why Participate in Golf Datatech Retail Reporting?

  • Participants know the best-selling brands in on-course golf shops for men’s and women’s shirts, tops, bottoms and outerwear
  • Information to keep you up-to-date with the top selling models of drivers, fairways hybrids, irons, putters, wedges, footwear, gloves and golf bags
  • Retail pricing information is provided in the monthly reports for apparel and hard goods. Confidence in knowing that Golf Datatech has tracked golf retail sales and reported the findings to the industry since 1996. All major manufacturers subscribe to these reports
  • All information sent to Golf Datatech is kept in extreme confidence.  Data is used only in combination of hundreds of other data files to project the entire on course market
  • Never a cost to the participants or the club to receive Golf Datatech reports. It’s FREE (exclusive to NGCOA Canada members)!

Tax Fairness for the Golf Industry

Make your voice heard!

The National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA) has been focused on ensuring our industry’s request for tax fairness is a priority for the new Government. Due to a 1971 tax reform, the Canada Revenue Agency does not allow deductions for expenses incurred by business people entertaining clients at golf courses. Canada’s 2,300 golf courses, most of whom are small business operators, cannot compete fairly with all the other industries where CRA does support entertaining clients. Over time, the unfairness of this discrimination against the golf industry has become more and more significant. The previous government had not instigated change on this matter so it is now imperative that we ensure that the new Liberal government is aware of this issue and realizes that tax fairness is necessary for our industry. To assist us in ensuring our voice is heard we are asking each facility to meet with their local MP to communicate our message and ask them to support this need for change. Click here to access our brand new grassroots advocacy kit to assist with your MP meeting, plus other key info on this important issue.

Important Property Assessment and Taxation News

The BC Chapter Advisory Board has met with Adrian Rizzo of Kent-Macpherson in Kelowna to discuss how golf courses in BC are valued for property assessment purposes. Adrian has been an affiliate member of the BC Chapter of the NGCOA Canada since 2009 and has successfully represented a number of courses in property assessment appeals.

Mr. Rizzo discussed with the Board the results of an analysis he has completed on the fairness of BC Assessment’s current valuation methodology for golf courses. His analysis suggests that BC Assessment’s present process unfairly values golf courses relative to other commercial properties and as a result golf course property taxes are higher than they should be. As a former appraiser at BC Assessment he was actively involved in golf course valuation and he is very familiar with the current process utilized by BC Assessment. He believes their current process should be changed to be more in line with how they value all other commercial properties.

Adrian also provided information on the expected tax savings individual golf courses could realize if BC Assessment changes their present valuation process. His information was based on the assessed values of a few years ago from a limited number of courses. We would like him to complete the same analysis but with current assessed values and tax rates.

Based upon the potential property tax savings for our member courses indicated by his work to-date, the Chapter Advisory Board concluded that it is in the best interest of their entire membership to pursue this issue further and decided to work with Adrian by assisting him on getting the current information he requires to provide the Board with an updated analysis.

To complete a more detailed review Adrian requires access to the Property Valuation Summary (PVS) of as many golf courses as possible. The PVS is a BC Assessment document that contains the details on how the current assessed value was determined. This document is readily available for all commercial property owners or their representative who ask for. The Board is asking its members for permission to ask BC Assessment for this document on their behalf.

We are hoping to access as many current PVS’s as possible in order to do allow Adrian to complete thorough review of the potential property tax savings for course owners if this initiative is implemented by BC Assessment. We encourage all members to participate in this important review so please send your approval for the Board to obtain the PVS for your golf course. Once Adrian has a sufficient number of PVS he will update his analysis and report back to the Board on whether this issue should be pursued further.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact myself or one of the Chapter Advisory Board members. You can also contact Adrian at 1-866-763-2236 for more information. In order for Adrian to commence this analysis please contact Regional Director, Erica Beck, by email (ebeck@ngcoa.ca), with your consent for Adrian Rizzo and the NGCOA Canada, BC Chapter to request the PVS document needed.