Calls for a clarification on whether golf is eligible for the new Recreation Infrastructure Canada (RInC) funding have gone unanswered and time is running out for any golf facility that would like to make an application for funding under the program, first introduced in the federal budget earlier this year.
As of yesterday, the Royal Canadian Golf Association had heard nothing back from the federal government after concerns were raised when the Golden Golf Club in Golden, B.C., decided to go after some of this funding to build a new course only to discover it was ineligible.
That led to various associations in British Columbia and on the national scene – including the RCGA and National Golf Course Owners Association – looking into the matter on behalf of the game. The issue has remained silent since then and time is running out.
It isn’t a difficult question, merely one that requires a definitive yes or no from the feds. What is clear is that the game definitely needs a better government lobbying effort, a point brought up by NGCOA executive director Jeff Calderwood last month in this blog.
In the United States yesterday, the PGA of America and PGA Tour joined other allied golf associations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the second annual National Golf Day, which is designed to educate Congress, media and others about the benefits of golf down south.
Among the topics of discussion were that golf is responsible for two million jobs in the U.S. and generates $61-billion in wage income annually. Other economic impact issues were raised as well, as was the environmental aspect of the green space provided by golf.
One would think that a Canadian government that is trying to stimulate the economy through jobs created under the RInC program would pay attention to those types of numbers, even if they are American, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It remains to be seen what numbers will come from an economic impact study to be unveiled later this year by the National Allied Golf Association in Canada, and given how the government has ignored the game on the RInC issue, this economic impact study may provide impetus towards more effective lobbying.
Of course, that will be too late for golf to get a piece of the RInC funding pie, which seems to be geared more towards municipalities, First Nations groups and non-profit community organizations.
From the material I’ve read, the funding will cover “shovel-ready” facilities such as arenas, gymnasiums, swimming pools, sports fields and courts, parks, fitness trails or bike paths and multi-purpose recreation facilities.
The deadline for project proposals is May 29 with a grace period extending to June 19, for projects needing more time to develop a proposal. In other words, the time is now to get your proposal in if you think you qualify as a golf business.
The catch is this for somebody looking to build 18 holes with help from this funding. The government has said it will fast-track through applications to get projects going almost immediately, but still, it will be well into summer, at the earliest, before any new golf course could get underway, assuming it qualifies,
That would leave part of this year and all of next to complete those 18 holes because qualifying projects have to be concluded by March 31, 2011, under the funding criteria. Given all the winter months that fall between now and then, is it doable?
You may or may not be wasting your time in applying for a piece of this funding, but it is becoming clear that golf being a sport based on private enterprise, which it is in most cases, will get a very small piece of the pie, if it gets any at all.
Even if golf courses aren’t privately-owned, should municipal facilities be treated differently considering they will be in competition with the very golf businesses that fund them through the taxes they pay? In a recent GNN Poll, 69 per cent of respondents felt the federal funding should be open to all golf businesses.
If the game is eligible for this infrastructure program, the important factor should be how concentrated the golf product is in the area in which the proposed facility would be built.
Sadly, the government will not react to a simple request for a clarification on this issue, but if anything good comes of this, it should be a wake-up call that the game needs a strong voice at various levels of government.
The question is who will provide that voice?