Allied Golf Association of British Columbia: Message From the President

While the recent resignation of the NGCOA and PGA of BC from AGA-BC has resulted in fewer people and organizations involved in helping move the British Columbia Golf Industry forward as one group, we remain strongly committed to advancement by proactively and thoughtfully addressing the issues and challenges we face.

Over the past 10 years, AGA-BC has developed remarkable government relations with both governing and opposition parties. For golf to continue building these relationships, remaining member groups feel it’s critically important we continue without immediate support from the NGCOA and the PGA of BC. Hopefully the situation is temporary as the original vision in creating an allied group was to have all golf industry sectors at the table, working together for our collective betterment.

Government has always been very candid with us in how they choose to be involved with interest groups. Their preference is to hear from one voice as it provides simplicity facilitating industry issues concerning both bureaucrats and politicians. The goal of AGA-BC in terms of lobbying, is to provide structure for the BC golf industry as a whole, to challenge provincial golf industry issues while communicating with respective memberships the value of that work.

More than advocating single issues, AGA-BC works with the provincial government to increase golf awareness, promote the health, environmental and economic benefits of golf and grow the game. Through the British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance (BCGMA), a member group that falls under the umbrella of AGA-BC as a legal entity, $250k in annual shared golf marketing dollars is generated via government partnership.

There is a lot of lobby work however and I hope you continue reading about the current hot topic, proposed regulations put forward by WorkSafe BC requiring rollover protection (ROPS) and seatbelts on all golf cars driven by workers and the AGA-BC Position on Proposed WorksafeBC Rollover Protection and Seatbelts (ROPS) Regulations.

In addition to this project, we have completed and vetted all but 2 pages of the Integrated Pest Management Manual, a valuable tool for turf management of golf courses and funded entirely by the BC Ministry of Environment. It will be ready to run past the Board for approval first week of November, after which it will be made available from our website as an open-source (free) resource.

To close, we would like to congratulate Trisha Larsen, Exec. Director of the BCGMA and her Advisory Council, for a new all-time sales record for golf packages through the BCGMA central reservations office with sales of $1,019,624 to September 22, surpassing 2018’s total with an increase of 9.2%, 34% from 2017 and dispersing revenue through nine different golf areas of the province.

“Golf is good for our health, our environment,
and the economy of British Columbia.”

Trevor Smith
President, AGA-BC
Tel: 250-320-6411

How the British Columbia Golf Industry Addressed WorkSafeBC’s Proposed New Golf Cart Rules

By Trevor Smith, Allied Golf Association of British Columbia President

The current hot topic involves proposed regulations put forward by WorkSafeBC requiring rollover protection (ROPS) and seatbelts on all golf carts driven by workers. This very quickly became an item of interest for AGA-BC last October, as the rules were very complex, open to interpretation and potentially very costly to the industry with seemingly little benefit to employee safety.  Here linked is the AGA-BC Position on Proposed WorkSafeBC Rollover Protection and Seatbelts (ROPS) Regulations.

From experience dealing with government on previous issues, we knew our first step was to seek out the true nature and impact of the regulations and possible repercussions. AGA-BC addressed this by forming a working group tasked with reviewing proposed new rules, researching standards in other jurisdictions, contacting manufacturers and ultimately, requesting a face-to-face meeting with the regulator.

WorkSafeBC was very accepting of our request and provided an opportunity to meet face to face, twice eventually plus one public hearing. Up to this point, several stakeholders had made submissions during the industry consultation phase but it seemed no one really knew if golf was being captured inadvertently, if recent accident statistics were indicating increased concerns about golf cart rollovers, which golf carts would require ROPS and if ROPS were even available, along with many other questions. As a result, rumors were flying but nothing had been confirmed by WorkSafeBC.

AGA-BC’s goal was to separate fact from fiction and then develop an approach to resolve issues while working with, rather than against, WorkSafeBC. As a committee, we brought forward a series of questions pertaining to the regulations and our interpretation of the regulations. Those questions were answered and we were able to discern which regulations were going to have an impact on the industry. The meeting was very positive and the group was eager to work with us again. A second meeting to conclude our approach took place in early October.

Between those meetings the media got involved, highlighting golf operator concerns over proposed ROPS requirements on golf carts. Coverage resulted in further rumors, industry confusion and people looking for answers. As a committee, we were concerned that some in the golf industry assumed the issue had been put to bed as was implied by several media outlets and statements made by WorksafeBC in the process.

At the time, and as the only group we knew of who had a face-to-face meeting with Worksafe, there had been no indication of exclusion for golf carts. Confusion seemed to stem from a perspective that carts used by golfers would not need ROPS since Worksafe only regulates workers but this thought process did not seem to consider that those same carts are operated by golf course staff on a daily basis.

At this point, the AGA-BC Board voted to engage our former lobbyist, Mark Jiles and Bluestone Consulting, to guide us through the media impact and where the issue lay with both bureaucrats and politicians.

We then reached out to WorksafeBC for a second meeting to discuss any changes, bring forward our concerns, undertake an objective analysis of the incident and accident statistics and present our ask, a full exemption for operation of light frame/slow speed vehicles (Golf car, turf care utility vehicles).

At this meeting, we informed Worksafe that worldwide, no major golf cart manufacturer produces an engineered ROPS system for their golf carts and that any after-market system would void the manufacturer warranty. Much discussion ensued at this juncture and we were asked for letters of confirmation on the subject, which were subsequently provided.

On October 22nd, WorksafeBC let us know that under section 16.34 of the proposed amendments to Part 16 of the regulation ‘Mobile Equipment’, golf carts have been removed from the ROPS requirement(s).

This seems like a win for the industry and it’s very good news but as we have learned in the past 12 months of dealing with Worksafe, the “devil is in the details”. AGA-BC will continue to work with Worksafe to fully understand consequences of all the regulatory changes and how they will impact the golf industry including presenting our position paper at the upcoming four public hearings.

October 29, 2019Ramada Plaza
444 George Street
Prince George, BC
November 5, 2019Coast Hotels
1250 Rogers Way
Kamloops, BC
November 7, 2019Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort
100 Harbour Road
Victoria, BC
November 14, 2019Pacific Gateway Hotel
3500 Cessna Drive
Richmond, BC
Session Times:3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm