Kingston Whig Standard
Golf course not on chopping block, for now
KINGSTON – The city isn’t planning to repurpose its golf course, the mayor says, at least for the time being.
The city-owned Belle Park Fairways will remain as such for the indefinite future, Mayor Mark Gerretsen said Tuesday.
Last month, during a discussion about ways in which the city can reduce taxes, Gerretsen remarked that the city-owned golf course could be converted into a park and solar power facility.
That comment spurred some of the Montreal Street course’s advocates to write letters to the newspaper decrying the move. Many who play at Belle Park – nicknamed “The Dump” because it was built atop a former landfill – do so because they can’t afford to play elsewhere, some wrote.
“I guess some people took my comments to think that I was saying, ‘Close the golf course and this is our solution,’ but it was more in the context in which I was saying it,” the mayor explained.
“What I was really trying to get across was, ‘We should look differently at how we run the businesses and the services we provide in the city if we’re genuine about getting taxes down.'”
Belle Park was just an example of how the city needs to think “outside the box” when it comes to running its businesses, the mayor said.
In hindsight, Gerretsen said, it “wasn’t reasonable” to build something, such as a solar-power plant, at the site since no drilling underground could take place because the land is contaminated.
The 6,000-yard, 100-member golf course is a money-losing venture for the city. Last year, Belle Park saw revenues of $214,000 but had expenses totalling $374,000, leaving a deficit of $160,000.
While there are no plans to close the links, Gerretsen questions whether the city should remain in the golf course business.
“(Belle Park) does tremendous things for 100 people or so, but, at the end of the day, we would be better off buying those 100 people memberships at another golf course,” he said. “We’d be up at the end of the day.”
He would rather see the city create a program to help golf enthusiasts who face a financial constraint.
“I would much rather see us have a program that is designed to assist people who can’t afford to play golf anywhere else, a program that assists them in their ability to be able to play at other places,” Gerretsen said.
“I think that’s a better investment of the money than Belle Park specifically. But at the end of the day… why should 120,000 people be subsidizing what only 100 people benefit from?”
Gerretsen said he would be interested in using the land for something that would benefit thousands of residents rather than 100. He pointed to the Invista Centre as an example of a one that benefits thousands.
Other cities, including Winnipeg and Kitchener, have been taking a look recently at whether they will keep their city-owned golf courses.
Gerretsen said he was well aware of those reviews taking place.
Divesting itself from the golf course isn’t the city’s only option, he said.
“Or, why don’t we see if we can get somebody else who wants to lease the land from the city and run a golf course from there?” he said. “I mean, it’s a great location for a golf course in that it’s right in the middle of the city.”
Staff are looking for ways for the city to save money and, in turn, trim tax increases.
“As part of the process that council went through, we asked staff to look for opportunities to bring the budget in, the tax increase to about 2.5%,” Gerretsen said.
“So, rather than pinpoint where we’d like to see it, we’ve asked staff to bring us information back with some options as to how that can happen and then from there we will then analyse the options that they’ve brought to us. The golf course might be one of the options, and it totally might not be.”
The city’s operation of Belle Park may have run its course, he said.
“There’s lots of things that we do like that that were set up for a good reason when they were set up, but maybe it’s time to look at them again and say, ‘Hey, is this the best way to be doing this?’ ” Gerretsen said.
“And we shouldn’t be afraid of that, you know? I think that sometimes people and some councillors are afraid of looking at the way we do things because they think it means we’re going to just slash what we’re doing. That’s not the intent behind it.”
Canadian Cancer Society
Our position on cosmetic use of pesticides
Pesticides are sometimes used to improve the appearance of green spaces by controlling unwanted weeds and plants. Using pesticides in this way is referred to as cosmetic use of pesticides.
Canadian Cancer Society position
We are very concerned about the cosmetic and non-essential use of potentially cancer-causing substances on green spaces. The Society calls for a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides.
Our position is based on the current body of evidence suggesting a connection between pesticides and cancer. Moreover, the cosmetic use of pesticides may cause harm and provides no health benefit. According to the precautionary principle, “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”
Our call for a ban does not apply to using pesticides in agriculture to grow food, ensure public health and safety or prevent environmental damage. In these instances, the issue is much more complex since there can be health benefits in controlling pests.
Non-cosmetic use of pesticides
The Society supports the use of safer ways to maintain and improve the appearance of lawns, gardens, parks and other green spaces. The Society does not support the use of Integrated Pest Management for cosmetic purposes.
Golf courses and sporting facilities
The Society wants a phase-out of pesticide use at golf courses and sporting facilities. A phase-out approach is very important at golf courses and sporting facilities that:
- children use often and for long periods of time
- are next to residential and public areas
If needed, pesticides should be used as the last option, in the smallest possible amount, and only where needed to make facilities usable. People should stay away from treated areas for at least 48 hours after the last pesticide application.
Home fruit and vegetable gardens
Pesticide use in home or personal fruit and vegetable gardens should be phased out, if not eliminated completely. The risk of pesticide exposure in your garden is different than in agricultural settings. Pesticide use in agriculture typically has more controls in place to reduce pesticide exposure, such as:
- training requirements for applicators to properly use personal protective equipment
- strategies to reduce pesticide residue levels and pesticide drift
- rules to limit access to sprayed areas
Last modified on: 07 July 2012
Read more: http://www.cancer.ca/Canada-wide/Prevention/Harmful%20substances%20and%20environmental%20risks/Pesticides/Our%20position%20on%20cosmetic%20use%20of%20pesticides.aspx?sc_lang=en#ixzz20KpCrDQY