It will cost about $150,000 to $300,000 to repair the unusable Oak Bay High grass athletic field.
The pitch was installed in 2015 – when the new high school was constructed – though a field has to sit for about a year before it can become durable enough for sports (the time allows the grass to populate and take root). When Greater Victoria School District 61 and Oak Bay High tested it in September of 2016, it was immediately apparent that the field had too much clay, and that the irrigation pipes weren’t laid deep enough.
“We were in discussions with [the contractor] about remediations… we will enforce our legal rights on this, we disagree on the results of the field,” said SD61 secretary treasurer Mark Walsh. “At that time we immediately saw the draining issue, [however] we couldn’t get the contractor to fix the issues. We couldn’t agree, on the extent of the work necessary.”
As a result, playing soccer, rugby and other wet season sports would lead to persistent muddy areas and other complications.
“We wanted to deep tine the field, the typical aeration where you poke holes in it,” Walsh said. “Unfortunately, the sprinkler system is too high in the dirt so we can’t deep tine as an option.”
And so, the dirt and irrigation will be torn up and replaced.
“As far as we are concerned the field is not usable for school purposes.”
Repairs have been further delayed as no companies bid on SD61’s 2018 request for proposals.
“We’ll put it out again and we anticipate bids and hopefully that work will start late spring, early summer,” Walsh said.
If so, the field could be usable by late spring in 2020. Oak Bay, of course, has survived by having its soccer teams and other sports activities use Oak Bay High’s all-weather field and the field inside the Jack Wallace Memorial Track by Oak Bay Rec. Centre.
“We don’t want to minimize the fact that Oak Bay’s premium athletics programs haven’t been able to play at home,” Walsh said. “We also have a strong relationship with Oak Bay and a joint use agreements, and they haven’t been able to use the field for softball.”
Oak Bay High isn’t the only SD61 school with a problem pitch. Northridge elementary school in West Saanich is going through the a similar problem as we speak, Walsh said.
The standards of the Northridge weren’t designed to the same high performance level of Oak Bay’s. Nonetheless, the school is in a lurch as the contractor went bankrupt mid-project, Walsh said. The district is now left to fix the Northridge field which is behind a year.
“We’re looking to do as much in-house work as we can for future elementary fields,” Walsh said. “We’re never had that issue before.”