BC Golf Industry Association Meets New Group Of MLAs

by Jeff Sutherland at Inside Golf

AGA-BC has spoken to sitting provincial governments before but this time it was to any who were hearing about the value of golf for the first time…

May 28th marked the fourth time that the Allied Golf Association of British Columbia (AGA-BC) has hosted a Golf Awareness Day for the BC Legislature. This time, however, it was NDP’er Ravi Kahlon (MLA for Delta North and Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism) who headed a group of 30+ fellow backbenchers who got an update on golf’s relevance to the people of BC and to the province’s economy as well.

During the information portion of the luncheon, AGA-BC representatives used an industry scorecard to explain the topics they wanted to highlight.

During his opening statements, AGA-BC president Trevor Smith explained how the scorecard worked, “Golfers in the room will instantly recognize the birdies on the Scorecard where we feel we are doing exceptionally well; pars, where we are performing as we should be, and bogeys – areas we have identified for improvement together with government.”

Birdies were earned in three areas:
– for economic impact where golf provides 44,000 jobs, generates more than two billion dollars in economic activity and accounts for $465 million in tax revenues
– for environmental stewardship where the industry is extremely pro-active in developing IPM (integrated pest management) best practices and setting tough environmental standards.
– in promoting golf as a sport for life where playing 18 holes equates to walking more than 10 km and playing the game can add five years to your life.

Three bogeys were awarded as well including one related to the promotion of BC as a golf destination where according to AGA Board member Trisha Larsen who represents the British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance,”… the U.S. market remains largely untapped.”

Water was also cited as a concern with the industry wanting to ensure supply at reasonable rates giving themselves a bogey for work still in progress.  The Western Canada Turfgrass Association’s executive director, Jerry Rousseau talked about the “California Model” where courses in that state were actually able to use less water than regulators were asking when given the control of when and where to apply it.

MLA Ravi Kahlon - AGA-BC Golf Awareness Day 2018

BC’s amateur organization, British Columbia Golf brought some of their SNAG equipment used in the “Playgrounds to Fairways” programs and MLAs took advantage of the chance to swing some “golf clubs”… some of them for the first time. Shown is North Delta MLA Ravi Kahlon who showed a prowess consistent with an Olympic athlete.
IMAGE CREDIT JEFF SUTHERLAND / COURTESY INSIDE GOLF

From the response of the attending MLAs, it was clear that this like much of the information presented was new. Even the fact that golf is Canada’s #1 participation sport was a surprise to some.

But it was clear that Ravi Kahlon and his fellow MLAs were hearing the message.

While this info session may have been a departure for many of the attending MLAs, it appears their perception of the industry may be changing.

In a short address, the two-time Olympian in field hockey acknowledged golf’s value to tourism and its potential for getting more women more active and involved in sports stating their position as “…looking forward to continuing the conversation around tourism as well as the water issues.”

One of the attendees, Liberal Doug Clovechok, MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, addressed the Legislative Assembly of BC the next day on National Golf Day, May 29th and invited the members opposite to a match!

AGA-BC: Update From The President

It has been a pleasure to collaborate with a such a dedicated team of golf industry professionals on our AGA-BC Board toward considerable success these past two years, toward providing leadership, collaborative advocacy and a cooperative resource for the British Columbia Golf industry.

Our hope is that this report will provide insight into the importance of what we are trying to accomplish and convey the need for all associations to participate – mentally, physically and financially.

Firstly, I believe we can all agree that the entire golf industry needs to be recognized by government as a key financial contributor to the economy of British Columbia. That was the belief in the beginning and the reality of where we are today: the government of British Columbia now recognizes the Golf Industry as a key contributor to the healthy economy of the Province and has been more than willing to involve us in a partnership on a number of different key financial, environmental and marketing fronts.

These opportunities have come to fruition through the lobbying efforts of Bluestone Government Relations and a very active volunteer board. I would like to key in on the active volunteer board, as there is no way we could have accomplished what we have without a paid lobbyist and a number of very dedicated board members contributing their time and expertise to what we deem important. Without their support, the weight put on the volunteers through this process would have overwhelmed them and not allowed for the insight and the government connections a paid lobbyist could supply.

Keeping this in mind, herewith a list of the positive outcomes the AGA-BC has accomplished:

  • With the initial direction of the NGCOA and its financial assistance, we took part in the original lobbying effort to overturn the golf cart licensing issue in BC.
  • We undertook the organization of three successful lobbying efforts with the Government and its MLA’s in Victoria.
  • We undertook a seminar for the golf industry to further move the collaborative efforts of the AGA-BC forward and to develop a mandate.
  • We developed a website including a news feed, minutes, events and the direction the association is heading.
  • We developed a Golf Industry Score Card that illustrates the mandate of the AGA-BC as an industry communication tool.
  • We developed a committee to work with the MOE on the environmental issues facing golf now and in the future.
  • We collectively worked with the Ministry of Environment on new regulations that would help both Industry and Government develop sound policy on both pesticides and water usage.
  • We received government grants of $35,000.00 to be put towards the creation of an IPM handbook to assist both the government and the Golf Industry in fair and equitable regulations.
  • We are presently engaged with the Metro Vancouver Water Authority and their consultants on developing equitable water use regulations for the 67 golf courses in Greater Vancouver.
  • We are working with ICBC on the creation of Vanity license plates for the Golf Industry – which will provide a potential funding source for both sport development and marketing.
  • We have expanded to include the BCGMA within the AGA-BC, toward viewing the Golf Industry as one unified entity.
  • Efforts of the BCGMA and the AGA-BC have resulted in an increase from $50K to $250K in co-operative advertising funding through Destination BC  for marketing BC’s golf courses. This may just be the beginning.
  • We syndicated the “First Green” program developed in Washington in conjunction with the WCTA for the advancement of golf industry public awareness. This program has been adopted by the USGA and utilizes the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teaching concept. This program has been very well supported, by both the Ministry of Environment and the Minister of Education. A very successful event was held at the Redwoods Golf Course with the Minister of Environment and a number of District school superintendents in attendance. It would appears that future events will be well accepted by the school system.

Given the breadth, depth and scope of work we do and that still needs to be done, the need to work together as a group for the betterment of the Golf Industry is both clear and imperative. No one group can do it alone. We look forward to another year of positive collaboration.

If there are any questions please feel free to call me!

Sincerely,
Trevor Smith
President, AGA-BC
Tel: 250-320-6411
Email: president@aga-bc.org