Grounds Management and Operations

Building on the Grounds Maintenance and Operations course, this course is designed to provide an overview of the ever-changing responsibilities in maintaining public grounds and open spaces by using a variety of facilitators from diverse backgrounds within the industry. It further explores the diverse work environments that a grounds professional needs to be aware of to ensure they remain current and up to date and allows for professional interaction at the planning stages of new development, or to better understand how to manage current operations.

Topics include:
  • Grounds Management 101 – trees, shrubs, winter damage, flowers and amenities such as garbage cans, outhouses, benches and boulevards all need to be managed through scheduled maintenance and upkeep. Creating a functional work plan that directs all the activities while developing data to support budget requests is an important managerial skill
  • Sustainability Plans – once a phrase used only by the treasurer or planning departments this responsibility has not filtered down to every operational department. Senior staff want to know both short and long term maintenance requirements, the life expectancy of all infrastructure, and the unfunded liability associated with all aspects of operations.
  • Fiscal Responsibilities – public perception is that outdoor recreational use should be free. This may be true for the user but the reality internally is that it costs to provide these services. This session will explore true cost accounting and how to present what it costs to offer outdoor recreation that has limited revenue development
  • Alternative Parks – splash pads, dog parks, trails, historical sites and cemeteries are only a short list of non-traditional grounds and open spaces that today’s practitioner could be responsible for. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences with non-traditional outdoor recreational infrastructure as part of the learning experience
  • Water Management – there was a time that facility management only feared the arrival of the electrical bill each month – the water bill now sends a sense of fear! Today’s grounds manager must understand how to control water usage.
  • Water Parks – waterfronts and marinas are an important part of many communities’ assets. Federal government has sold off many of its docks to communities while water tourism continues to grow.
  • Seasonal Staff – most grounds department rely on seasonal staff to accomplish the work at hand. Often this work pool is comprised of young workers. While senior staff are often pulled away from their primary work environment to conduct grounds work. Effectively managing grounds staff through external and in-house workplace specific training that focuses not only on working safely but doing work in the public eye does not only create a positive work environment it is a legal requirement to be met. Understanding basic training expectations of key government authorities while embracing the importance of staff having positive customer service skills is an important part of creating a successful team
  • Fleet and Equipment Management – every grounds department will have various pieces of equipment that will be required to be managed. This session will review key elements that are required to successfully manage these assets.
  • Special Events – you get it back after the party is over! Dealing with the aftermath of a major community festival held outdoors requires a grounds manager to attack the clean–up and restoration of the area in military fashion. This session will review what is involved and what needs to be considered to effectively bring the area back to its original state
  • Managing the Risk – today’s grounds manager needs to be a manager of risk! Offering outdoor recreation seems harmless and simple but in reality it holds the potential for extreme liability and legal accountability. Every aspect of grounds management must be steeped in risk reduction.
  • Trees and Forest Areas – each grounds manager deals with naturalized areas and tree management, unfortunately the expertise of an arborist is not always readily available so what role does the grounds manager and employee have from a safety perspective and identifying risks. Understanding basic tree management in parks, residential areas and urban forest settings will assist all involved. This session will help identify the risks, importance of trees to our landscape, general pest identification and processes in dealing with potential infestations and the general knowledge of tree management and identification.
  • High Calibre Field Case Study - This session will explore the science of sport field design and sport specific requirements of one of Ontario’s state of the art sports fields. The session will be led by an industry leader(s) who has been actively involved in the design, operation and facility requirements pertaining to hosting high level international and/or professional sporting and/or entertainment events. Specific attention will be given to the operation, maintenance and budgeting necessary to be considered a profit focused sports field.
  • Air Supported Structures - This session will cover the history of the “Bubble” (air supported structure) and will highlight the costs to purchase, lease and operate said facilities. It will also cover maintenance, operational and replacement issues and concerns while highlighting the pros and cons of these facilities versus the brick and mortar type of recreational facilities. Alternative building offerings play an important role in a grounds manager’s ability to meet the client’s needs while finding a solution to the effects we now face as part of our changing climate and operational seasons.

The ORFA has partnered with Sports Turf Canada (STC) to present the following two sessions:

  • Understanding Natural Turf – the old saying of “building it and they will come” has been updated to “build it right and they can come every day to play”. Understanding the science involved with creating and maintaining live turf is key to a safe and durable natural sports field. This session will provide a complete overview on what is required to be successful in maintaining natural turf.
  • Understanding Synthetic Turf – the myth that artificial turf is no/low maintenance is explored in depth. Construction methods, materials, maintenance equipment and staffing requirements will all be discussed. Understanding the complexities associated with a synthetic sports field is an important part of managing these environments. This session will provide a complete overview on what is required to be successful in maintaining artificial turf.
  • University of Guelph Facility Tour - The U of G has a variety of artificial and natural sports fields, a world class Field House surrounded by groomed grass and beautiful horticulture. The last day will be spent touring the campus while interacting with those responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds.

Instructors: Frank Cain, Assistant Facility & Business Development Manager, University of Guelph, Paul Gillen, Past-President, Sports Turf Canada, Mark Nicholls, President and Founder of TURFindustry