The City of Victoria will install a turf field at Topaz Park after almost rejecting the idea last week.
Last week, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she “couldn’t stomach” the idea of spending $4.2 million on another turf field at Topaz Park, even though more than two years of work had gone into planning for it. Problems cited included environmental concerns after seeing a turf field in Oak Bay shed plastic grass into local waterways.
At the time, staff told council this kind of situation would be “very rare,” adding this week that the blades had not been properly adhered to the backing and that issues could be resolved with a proper design process.
Last week council voted to do further research and make a final decision on Jan. 23.
In the interim, hundreds of letters poured in from residents, most of which councillors called “very thoughtful.”
“I’m only up to my 270th letter,” said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe. “A 12-year-old was saying how important it was for her, while others said they don’t have a lot of money and it teaches about a team sport. A doctor wrote about obesity and the importance of recreation … and there were concerns about all the planning that’s been done.”
The sentiments and research got most members to shift to approving the project.
Coun. Ben Isitt remained opposed to the idea, saying that financially it would be better to simply resurface the current field, rather than reorient it as part of the new design.
“This project is much bigger in scope than it has to be to produce a high-quality playing surface,” he said.
When speaking with the press, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was grateful council had made the choice to wait a week to consider their options.
I changed my mind because I did a little more research, I read back thru staff reports, and most importantly we got some really, really thoughtful letters from residents,” Helps said. “My job as mayor is to weigh one set of values off of another set of values and come up with the best possible decision.”
The motion passed six-to-one.