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 2018

It has been two, very quick years since you last received an update on the activities of the AGA-BC. In that period of time we have experienced a change of Government, increased pressure throughout the Province regarding water usage, increased pressure on small business through increased taxation and minimum wage increases, not to mention the continuing environmental pressures we are faced with in our daily activities. These are to name a few, of the increasing difficulties facing the golf industry.

Having said that, all is not doom and gloom as we have made great strides in dealing with a great number of these issues and have truly set the path forward to finding solutions and opportunity for growth.

Positive Outcomes:

  1. Conducted a Metro Vancouver Water Survey and Golf Industry Townhall in collaboration with the WCTA and BCGSA that helped shape the Metro Vancouver Water Use Plan and will provide a foundation for increased engagement of municipalities throughout the province.
  2. Facilitated changes to the redline liquor licensing boundaries for golf course operations in British Columbia together with the NGCOA
  3. Oversaw the production of an IPM Manual to assist both the government and the Golf Industry in fair and equitable integrated pest management regulations
  4. Continued lobbying of Government to introduce an adult fitness tax credit for British Columbians to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. This is one of the tax initiatives we have put forward every year to the select standing committee on finance.
  5. Continued collaborative lobbying efforts with Bluestone Government Relations towards maintaining our excellent relationships with government.
  6. Assisted with the expansion of the “First Green” program across Canada with the WCTA for the advancement of golf industry public awareness. This program is administered by the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association and America) and utilizes the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teaching concept to educate school aged children on how golf integrates into the community, from playing it to its environmental impact.
  7. Facilitated annual $250,000 Co-Operative Marketing Partnership Program applications to Destination British Columbia as the legal entity for the British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance and six sub-provincial / regional organizations to together implement over $1 Million in marketing initiatives toward growing golf tourism in our province.
  8. Presented our AGA-BC objectives and accomplishments to the CSCM Canadian Society of Club Managers – Interior Sector in Kelowna.
  9. Attended the USGA Symposium in Vancouver, bringing all of the golf associations in North America together under one roof to discuss programs implemented and ways of collaboration.
  10. Met together with new Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum to discuss the successful role of the AGA-BC and explore opportunities for collaboration. I cannot underscore enough the role British Columbia Golf has played in fostering relationships between all of the Associations. Under the direction and leadership of Kris Jonasson we have been able to bridge many issues with both financial and administrative assistance.
  11. Revised our operating process to ensure compliance with the new Societies Act
  12. Commenced a strategic planning process facilitated by Shawn Ireland and Chelsea Craig, with a completion goal of the Spring of 2019.
  13. Our Golf Industry Scorecard remains a key communication tool for us and is accessible on our website with print copies also available should you have a need.

Next on the AGA-BC Tee:

  • Golf Awareness Day at the BC Legislature – May 28th
  • Continued strategic planning including a sustainable funding model for ongoing government relations and priority initiatives as well as a communications strategy.

I would also like to take this time to thank an outstanding group of board members who have worked tirelessly as volunteers to keep the golf industry firmly in front of Government. Without their dedication I am sure we would not be able to move forward with many of these initiatives.

I don’t mean to repeat myself but when something makes sense there is no point in trying to recreate it.  “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. 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