Bees, Bears, Bio-Diesel, and Birds – New Golf Course Management

It’s been my pleasure to watch Greg Holden and the management team at Clear Lake Golf Course over the last 16 years shift the management regime from a traditional turf management approach to one that integrates all aspects of sustainability into its operations. Today, May 1, 201o, the Globe & Mail featured the Clear Lake Golf Course in Riding Mountain National Park in article about four top “green golf courses” in Canada.

Brain Kendall, author of the article writes..”…All across Canada, courses are dramatically cutting back on the use of water and pesticides, welcoming home birds and animals once regarded as pests, restocking ponds with indigenous fish and coming up with ingenious initiatives to transform the image of a sport long under attack by environmentalists… ” He tees up his article on Canadian environmentally friendly golf courses by featuring Tees With Bees (Bell Bay, Cape Breton); Make Way With Bear (Stewart Creek Golf & C0untry Club, in Alberta’s Bow Valley); Cravings At Clear Lake (Clear Lake Golf Course, Manitoba); and Birdies and Birdwatching (Victoria’s Cordova Bay Golf Course).

Greg won a Manitoba Eco-Network‘s top environmental award in 2009 for the work that they have been doing. And, the Clear Lake Golf Course was also a finalist in last year’s Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national awards of excellence in the category of “sustainable tourism”.

Earth Rhythms (a Riding Mountain-based learning adventure company) offers a personalized behind-the-scenes electric golf cart experience for small groups by advance reservation.  Turning Green Into Gold – featuring Greg’s stories about thousands of gallons of water saved, innovative gardening tips, use of natural pest fighting agents, an understanding of bio-diesel used in golf course maintenance vehicles, and short excursions to his favorite clipping’s nutrient piles, being at the heart of his “gold compost” resource stream production centre, and seeing some of  innovations in sustainable best practices are featured. This short, 2-hour program will turn your head, inspire you, and hopefully enable you to follow this up with a new appreciation for the history, ecology, and outstanding golf that is offered at Riding Mountain’s Clear Lake Golf Course.

Way to go Greg and team! It seems appropriate to tip our hats to Greg as the new 2010 President of the Canadian Golf Course Superintendent’s Association. This modest leader and pioneer in best practices of sustainable golf course management has much to offer visitors, golfers and the golf industry. He’d be the first to be cautious in handing out advice – but, he is willing to share his own experiences. His are first-class stories of carbon footprint reduction, recycling, and turning waste into resource streams.

An excerpt from this unique “experiential tourism program” will be experienced by 15 international travel buyers from India, China, Japan, the UK and Korea during the first week of May, 2010 as part of Travel Manitoba’s hosting of Rendezvous Canada – an international marketplace for travel buyers of distinctive Canadian experiences.

Clear Lake Golf Course - a Canadian leader in sustainability


Where The Fields End And The Forest Begins

The first thing I think about Riding Mountain is the ability to connect with nature, wildlife, and authentic Manitoba hospitality.  We were not disappointed.

We arrived after a long flight and coach ride through the wide open prairie spaces, and a climb over the mountain ridge to enter the forests of Riding Mountain National Park.  Greeted by friendly staff at the rustic Elkhorn Resort, we entered a great Canadian lodge nestled in the forests and  settled into our comfortable accommodations. We were wowed by a large fireplace. Our first night we enjoyed a relaxing dinner in front of a roaring fireplace of Manitoba Pickerel , a delicious white fish with a sinful mystery sauce.  The outdoor hot tub was the perfect ending for a long day …

Snowshoeing Riding Mountain National Park

We awoke to a beautiful warm sunny winter day with a hearty breakfast before leaving for our snow shoe adventure at Moon Lake.

  • Sheer beauty.
  • Tranquility.
  • Stimulated all senses.
  • The sounds of the wind blowing through the aspens.
  • The white of the snow. Untouched, except for animal tracks.

Usually snow is an annoyance, a make-work project.  Today, we embraced the snow and  connected to nature.  Following a stream naturally funneled us to our discovery of Dale, a Parks Canada employee, in a Quinzee hut while observing moose tracks and other wildlife.  We shared  a Manitoba  blend of tea.

We learned new technologies used by Parks Canada to capture wildlife activities as they occur in Riding Mountain including a motion-sensor camera. Parks Canada staff have a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm which they are happy to share.  Another “creature” discovered on our journey was Dean Gunnarson, World Famous Escape  Artist , now living in Riding Mountain.

A cross-country ski excursion allowed us to discover more of the Park for 15 minutes, before someone injured themselves. The Elkhorn hot tub and a Fort Garry Pale Ale was the perfect medicine to ease the pain of body and pride.

Riding Mountain is a place where we could reconnect with nature and replenish our soul. We left  of our fields of everyday life and monotony and embraced the rejuvenation of the forest.

Blog post by Calvin D’Entremont and Maegan Power-Noble,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Lost in the Wilderness!!!

Snowshoeing Moon Lake

Help!!!  We arrived in “total desolation” not knowing what to expect.  It was a “barren wasteland”.  The waiver we signed said “not responsible for death caused by wild animals and parasites”.  Oh-oh! They said this was going to be fun.  They said we were going to learn to partner, to build relationships, and to experience the “T” (tourism) word in a funky value-added format. This was going to be new, fun, interactive, exciting and ultimately beneficial to the bottom line. Ok…sure..whatever…  We had our doubts initially…but now we’re believers!!

The next day was looking up…a bit, at least.  Breakfast was great…generally a good sign, so all was not lost.  Our group was obviously in the same frame of mind.  They didn’t know what to expect either.  However, after a little tongue-wagging we soon learned that their trepidations and expectations were quite similar to our own.

Earth Rhythms was phenomenal!!  The experiential outings were enlightening.  We were drawn to the local customs and traditions.  We were absorbed in the uniqueness of a distinct culture and way of life, feeling as if we belonged to it ourselves and that it had always been our own.  That’s the power of experience and it’s something that everyone can benefit from.  We never dreamed we would dance a traditional Ukrainian jig that looked so amazing in its natural state…until it was utterly destroyed by a couple of rookie bluenosers.  Fortunately for us, we weren’t alone.  The others in our group were as equally “talented” and forgiving.  We felt much better!

It all boils down to this…no matter who you are, or where you go, everyone is the same.  We’re all interdependent and herein lies our strength as human beings.  Together, we can tap into a vast supply of resources that, with a little ingenuity, can benefit one and all.  Together, we can experience, learn, adapt, grow, and profit from each other’s experiences, perceptions and opinions.

We’ve learned to look in our own backyards for the plethora of valuable resources that go un-utilized every day.  These do exist and they’re there for the taking, but sometimes they aren’t revealed until another point of view is expressed.  The full value of those hidden treasures then manifest in a flash of insight, and the hidden economic potential that lies just under our noses is finally revealed.

Our backyards, like the Manitoba “wilderness” may at times seem barren, cold and forbidding, but they can also be warm and inviting.  A cozy bonfire, starting with a tiny glowing ember of warmth – friendship, camaraderie, revelation, and knowledge – eventually grows into a fiery, consuming blaze.  That’s the power of “experiencing” over “observing”.  That’s the power of networking, building solid relationships and lasting partnerships. That’s the power of Best Practices Missions in Manitoba.

Thank you Earth Rhythms!

Blog post by Gem Johnson & Dave Hovey,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Outstanding 2010 principal of Canada – in Onanole

Laurie Bachewich_Onanole School Principal

Laurie Bachewich, Onanole Elementary School

Given that this is National Teacher/Staff Appreciation week, I thought that I would share some exciting news about one of Canada’s 32 outstanding school principals of Canada for 2010 who is right here in Onanole.  Are we proud!  It says a lot about small schools. As a resident in Onanole, and as someone whose entire corporate model is built around collaboration, I raise a hand in salute and tip my hat to someone who makes a practice of collaboration – Laurie Bachewich, Manitoba’s only school principal to receive this prestigious national award in 2010.  Laurie is the principal of a great teaching staff at Onanole Elementary School in Onanole, Manitoba.  Together, they rock! Innovative teaching methods, big vision, and a strong connection to community are the hallmarks of this team.

The Learning Partnership announced on January 19 that 32 outstanding Canadian principals will be honoured in Toronto in February. “Great principals build great schools.  They communicate a compelling vision, they engage their communities, they nurture their staff, and they create an environment that increases student success.”  I have been fortunate to work with Laurie over the last couple of years in my capacity as program director for Sonics and Sojourns, an annual festival of music and learning.

I would like to share four characteristics of this school administrator that stand out for me:

  1. An outstanding and un-wavering level of energy that is put out to facilitate the support of the school stakeholder quadruple foundation: students-teachers-parents-community.
  2. Laurie goes out of her way to develop and maintain strong relationships with community representatives, parents, the parent council, and others with whom she has carefully built a long-term commitment to education, educational programming, enrichment, and new opportunities for her students.
  3. Her passion for education, for doing the best that she can for her students.  And, she works within a team of educators who all share that passion, and who bring innovation, great teaching methods, and inspired learning into the school.
  4. An open and willing desire to include innovations in education in partnership with other community initiatives – the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, Sonics and Sojourns, and many other community initiatives.

The press release is available below for you to read.  We would like everyone in Manitoba to know of Laurie’s success.  Congratulations Laurie!!

Click here to read the press release:  Canada’s Outstanding Principals for 2010 Announced – Laurie Bachewich from Onanole, is the lone Manitoba recipient.  This press release also lists all of the other 31 recipients across Canada.  You may know some of them.

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to those who nominated her, and supported the nomination. We appreciate your efforts to acknowledge those among us, whose dedication and passion to enrich the lives of our children and community sometimes go un-noticed. It’s also great to see the local papers like the Minnedosa Tribune covering her success.

Laurie’s achievements and recognition make me aware of some of the benefits of living in small towns. Good quality education with very low student : teacher ratios is one of them.  Living next to a national park is another. A great quality of life year-round is yet another. And, finally, having a community that supports its educators and local champions is another.

Please pass on this post to anyone who knows of Onanole, has lived in Onanole, or is a visitor to Riding Mountain National Park.  I’d like them to know about Laurie Bachewich.

I like what I read on the Manitoba Teacher’s Society web-site as a quote from Manitoba Association of Parent Councils (MAPC) president Judith Cameron…

Our teachers put a tremendous amount of effort into the learning experience for our children and they’ve become so much more than just educators,” she says. “They have become true partners with parents and other school community groups. They are part of a school-wide dynamic that sees children thrive when proper supports are put in place. Teachers and parents are working together to support classroom learning, and work closely as a team on initiatives that enhance the whole school community. It’s important that we let them know that their efforts are appreciated.”

Cameron encourages parents to take a moment ‘to say thanks to those people who help make their child’s school day a positive experience.‘ ”

Field Guide For Change Agents

Now, this is what I am talking about – actions that lead by example.  I just recently saw a Tweet by Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) that was remarkable.  He has just taken part in an educator’s conference in Pennsylvania this past weekend.  Together, participants created and posted a field guide online using Slideshare (which means that they created a PowerPoint presentation and simply posted it, licencing it as an Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike 3.0 document under The Creative Commons).

It is a great example of how the online world can help us to act rather than meet or plan; collaborate rather than work individually when “the collaborative” has results much greater and more powerful than the individual; and share what we know and produce freely in the world for others to use, adapt or build upon.  WOW!

In my view, there are some really important principles illustrated in this short slide show that we can implement in our day-to-day actions for when we are attempting to work with others.  Great job Rodd et al!  Thanks for sharing.

A Manitoba perspective on governance and the state of our nation

Interesting Times
We are living in interesting times… I am watching two governments (one national, one provincial) mirroring each other in their current tactics to reduce the public service, reduce departmental budgets, and and ultimately reduce services to Canadians or Albertans, depending on which government we are talking about…

Here are some things that I am noticing:

1. Our Canadian parliament was prorogued when there was no requirement to do so, other than the Prime Minister was not willing to take the heat of the day. A waste of $48 million is estimated for having to pay parliamentarians for not being in the House for the 22 days that Parliament is prorogued.  In my view, this is irresponsible, as elected representatives accountable to the people of Canada.  Proroguing was to be used for very special circumstances.  It has now been used twice by Prime Minister Harper, both times when the heat became unbearable.

2. Stockwell Day as the new head of the Treasury Board is going to launch a spending review, promising years of spending scrutiny to find cuts to slay the deficit, reduce government budgets, government services and government expenditures.  Unfair and un-necessary.  The current government cut GST twice – with no requirement to do so – we have now encountered a major deficit as a country, which Mr. Day is going to try to recover by reducing government spending, public servants, and public services. GST should never have been cut – as a value-added tax, GST is paid by those who spend, not those who do not spend (in other words, it taxes discretionary spending.)  We could have fared much better in this economic downturn had we not trimmed GST.  When the budget comes up for a vote in March 2010, I dearly hope that it will not be passed.  This is not playing fair ball.  Yes, that means an election – but the present government has had its chance, actually several chances.  They fumbled, badly.  The irony right now is that the government has promised to balance the books without raising the taxes.  If they had not cut the GST in the first place, we would not be having to “shrink the public service”, chop grants for valuable social investments, or reduce support businesses or non-profits.

3. Instead of investing in the new and emerging hot green economy like Ontario has done and the US administration and several European countries (solar, wind, other  alternative energy technologies, and new manufacturing in green technologies), the current government chose to use “bailouts” instead of investments into growing a sustainable economy for the future.  Their support to “big oil” is both short-sighted and unsustainable.  Even Shell sees the larger global economic pattern and is pulling out of big investments and planned expansions in the Oil Sands and moving to other countries.  Read…Shell to slow expansion in Canadian tar sands.

Now, to Alberta
The provincial government is, by all reports, set to bring down a budget that will include significant cuts to Alberta’s public service. Just like in the 90’s when Ralph Klein made hurtful cuts that Alberta is still reeling from, Ed Stelmach is set to do exactly the same.

Calgary news release: Albertans join together for public services

Last Updated: January 15, 2010 Print Comments (0)New campaign challenges government not to cut fabric of our communities…

It’s interesting to note citizen responses to these parallel national and Alberta initiatives:

The Conservative government has tumbled in the polls this January 2010, as Canadians begin to understand the deep irony in what is taking place, and as the present government carefully tries to filter out what it does not want us to know.  Fortunately, with social and alternative media, we are learning about what is taking place through other means that are both credible and helpful.

In Alberta, an amazing movement is taking place…While the Alberta government swears in a new cabinet, representatives from community human service organizations, teachers, parent groups, health professionals, students, faculty and labour organizations launched a new campaign in Calgary and Edmonton to get Albertans to join together for public services…..To help mobilize citizens and bring together people from various sectors, we are organizing 22 town hall events across the province.

The town hall meetings will start January 25 and will go to a number of cities and towns before the final two large events in Calgary (February 16th) and Edmonton (February 17th). “We are building an extensive movement to challenge the plan to cut $2 billion out of the provincial budget,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “People need to deliver a very loud message to the government – deep cuts to public services are going to hurt people and our communities, and they are completely unnecessary given the continued growth of our economy and our billions in savings.”

This is not honorable
When a government makes bad decisions, invests in short-term tactics primarily for political gain, and does not respect some of the basic principles of sustainable economics, and then turns around and attacks the public service, reduces government services and budgets, expecting Canadians to support them, the people have to speak out.

This type of approach is not appropriate, not warranted, and definitely not honorable.  We, the people, will be the ones affected by reduced government budgets and services.  It is important to remember that public servants serve the people, but work for the government.  They are not in a position to object – their masters are the governing party.  It’s time to say… “enough is enough”.  We need both a more caring and economically savvy government.

For the record, this is a Manitoba perspective on the state of our nation!!

Folk history with Cara Luft

It is one thing to entertain. It is another to educate. But, when a good songwriter and musician bring a sharp focus to both entertain and educate, you are in for a treat. Cara Luft did just that last night at her Home Routes House Concert in Onanole, Manitoba. Having been raised in a home in Calgary, where folk-singing was part of the family repertoire, Cara was exposed to traditional British folk-songs, the songs of family friend James Keelaghan (who has since moved to Winnipeg, and won Juno), and many other styles and genres of music. Her guitar playing and songwriting started at an early age.

Cara Luft Performs at Home Routes House Concert in Onanole

Just before Cara left for Ashern, Manitoba, another stop on her Home Routes house circuit this November (2009), I asked Cara to respond to a few questions about her artistic performance last night with about 35 people present for a Friday night in Onanole. I am sure that you’ll be delighted with some of her reflections in her interview below.  Enjoy!

Clear Lake Golf Course – A vision about sustainability as “just doing the right thing”

These are ordinary folks doing extra-0rdinary things.  Ian Sarna, General Manager and Greg Holden, Superintendent of the Clear Lake Golf Course in Onanole, Manitoba are disappointed, yet happy to be in Saint John.  They were one of the finalists in the Parks Canada-sponsored Sustainable Tourism Award.   They have just witnessed 350 guests from all across Canada learn about the Clear Lake Golf Course during the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national gala dinner and presentation of awards of excellence.  As Ian and Greg would say, “sustainability is not something separate from what they do”.  It’s just part of doing business right.   And, they’ve been doing it right for 16 years.

TIAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

IAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

Two other Manitoba tourism partners went away with the coveted Nova Scotian crystal trophies – The Air Canada Business of the Year to Wa’Chee Lodge from Churchill;  and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Event of the Year award to Folklorama.

The Clear Lake Golf Course had a vision 16 years ago of managing a golf course that exemplified and enriched the national park mandate.  They have delivered on that, in piles of compost, 300,000 litres of water saved annually with their composting toilet systems, recycling of all wastes and garbage, and use of bio-diesel.  As Greg says, “we’ve learned to turn what we used to call a waste stream – daily garbage from the restaurant and clippings from the golf course – into a resource stream”.  This has saved on annual financial expenses for purchase of inputs, and helped to establish a low carbon golfing experience at Riding Mountain National Park that is the best in Canada for demonstrating environmental leadership, giving back to community, and maintaining a very profitable business model.

I, too, am disappointed that they did not bring back crystal to Manitoba.  But, Greg and Ian both experienced the passion and pride that is part of Canada’s tourism industry….it was alive and tangible all evening long, as various tourism businesses were acknowledged, won crystal awards, or students won sustainable tourism scholarships, or we heard stories of excellence.

My sense is that the story of the Clear Lake Golf Course and golfing may not be completely understood, as a significant contributor to tourism.  The scale of the Clear Lake Golf Course’s annual revenues, re-investments, the work of their charitable foundation, and the leadership role that the golf course has taken from an environmental management perspective is world class.   No other golf course in Canada has taken the remarkable steps that this golf course has.  You will see the Clear Lake Golf Course nominated for other provincial and national awards.  Stay tuned!

Congratulations to the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course for having made it as a finalist in the TIAC annual tourism awards.   Well done!

West End Cultural Centre Canada’s greenest music venue

Main concert venue at WECC

Main concert venue at WECC

What does that mean – Canada’s greenest music venue ?  Since when does responsible environmental policy meet the music industry in terms of venues, infrastructure and building operations?

Does this mean that the building is painted green on the outside, or that a smart approach integrating sound business management with sound environmental policy has been achieved?

Listen to the artistic director of Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre as he weaves a fascinating story – Dominic Lloyd Interview about this west end cultural facility and its connection to community, its restoration as a viable and relevant community performing arts venue (particularly music), and the innovative use of environmentally sound management practices that have reduced its carbon footprint.  This is leading edge stuff.  Someone nominate them for an award – they are going after LEED Silver in Canada as a performing arts venue.

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Thanks Dominic – I’m looking forward to hearing Harry Manx at the West End Cultural Centre on October 27.  Tickets are available through the Winnipeg Folk Festival Music Store.  You’ll notice that I said that the Harry Manx concert is through the Winnipeg Folk Festival, but the performance is at the West End Cultural Centre.   This is part of their revenue strategy.  There are two concert spaces (one large, one small)

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

that are available for rent for a variety of community and public events.   Creating spaces for community that are culturally relevant, smart examples of business operations, and wonderfully rich in artistic diversity.  Great to see!

Dauphin appoints new Tourism and Events coordinator

Dauphin Economic Development appoints  Carla (Steiner) Wolfenden to tourism and events coordinator position.  I have long been a champion of seeing communities invest into their tourism future by hiring well-qualified people who bring energy, commitment, and a solid background into year-round positions.  Our community economic development officers and tourism officers are part of the strategy and tactics that local municipalities in rural Canada need to leverage to build new business opportunities and think smartly about tourism as an economic driver.

By having a full-time tourism officer, events and new tourism businesses can be fostered, continuity in marketing maintained, and the brand further developed.  But, most of all, tourism officers can use their salaries and time to leverage and attract new grants, funds, and stimulate the development of  relevant new sustainable and environmentally responsible businesses, benefiting the community in the long term.

Dauphin has several anchor events, cultural attractions and is located next to a national park.   By looking long-term at creating new tourism products and experiences with a tourism and events coordinator, I say …”That’s good.  That’s smart.  That’s good investment.”  One of the critical things that rural communities like Dauphin can do is add tourism programming (also known as tourism products, experiences or packaging) on a year-round basis, to take place within facilities that are available within the community.

Programming generates revenues. That’s what local people and travelers pay to take part in a program.  The Ukrainian Festival is a great example of cultural tourism that provides programming.  However, there are many more opportunities to offer much smaller experiences year-round for different markets that will generate good yields without the high overhead of volunteer time and expenses of a festival.  Small business tourism is diverse, and there is lots of room for some new, high quality tourism businesses within the northern gateway community to Riding Mountain National Park.

We would like to welcome Carla (Steiner) Wolfenden to Dauphin’s new position as Tourism and Events Coordinator.  She holds a Recreation Studies degree from the University of Manitoba and has a variety of international and local experiences from which to draw, in her new position.

Originally following the outdoor recreation path as a student and with jobs in Riding Mountain National Park and with Manitoba Conservation, circumstances led her to a two-year stint as the Executive Director of Recreation Connections Manitoba. Her involvement as a volunteer with Team Canada Volleyball then led her to the sport world, where she worked for 6 years as the National Teams Coordinator.

Much of the last eight years was also spent in Europe, including Austria, Germany and Greece, where her husband played volleyball in their respective professional leagues.  Having just finished a year of maternity leave, Carla now lives with her husband and son in Dauphin, and is happy to call it home again after so many years away.  She is excited to be involved in what promises to be a bright future for both Dauphin and the Parkland region.