Plastic tarp now covers the Oak Bay High artificial soccer field which is shedding artificial grass-like fibres into Bowker Creek. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay’s failing turf field could be covered in tarp for months

Resident who recognized artificial grass problem remains concerned

More than a week after he stumbled on the Oak Bay High plastic turf strands situation, Oak Bay resident Angus Matthews still has questions.

Matthews first contacted the VI Free Daily about the situation on Nov. 13. Six days later, the Greater Victoria School District had tarped the field and shut it down indefinitely after it recognized the artificial plastic blades of grass were entering the Bowker Creek watershed.

READ MORE: Oak Bay High artificial turf closed indefinitely as plastic sheds into Bowker Creek

“The good news is the plastic field is contained in place and the surrounding area received an industrial scale clean up by SD61 [on Nov. 22],” Matthews noted. “They did a really good job.”

On Nov. 15 Matthews and his friends voluntarily raked five bags of the plastic turf out of the real grass along the riparian buffer of Bowker Creek.

“We gave up [for the day], there was too much,” Matthews said.

SD61 and the District of Oak Bay are now regularly monitoring the storm drains for further detritus from the turf field. Volunteer members of the Friends of Bowker Creek are also committed, cleaning a section of the creek over the weekend, Matthews said.

However, the question of replacing a 90-tonne plastic turf field is one that Matthews is now interested in. The field is comprised of plastic rubber crumbs as a base which keep the strands standing up while draining water.

READ MORE: Plastic pellets washing up on Willows Beach traced back to Fraser River source

The main problem with the Oak Bay High turf is that the artificial turf strands are loosely bound and are coming free with the field’s regular use, where other turf fields do not come apart easily.

This week the Ministry of the Environment said it in a statement that it is monitoring the situation until the replacement field is installed. It also said that parliamentary secretary Sheila Malcolmson is looking at ways to address plastics that make their way into waterways.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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