Strands of green plastic blades in a drain at Oak Bay Recreation Centre next to the turf at Oak Bay High. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

VIDEO: Oak Bay High soccer turf closed indefinitely as plastic sheds into Bowker Creek

Resident stumbles on Bowker Creek plastic contamination

Oak Bay High is now oh-for-two in the athletic field department since being rebuilt in 2015.

First it was revealed that the natural grass pitch, which will be open to all users and also serve to host the school’s cherished rugby Barbarians men’s and women’s teams, was improperly installed. This year it was dug up and re-installed as the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) filed for compensation against the company that installed it.

READ MORE: Mysterious plastic pellets washing up on Vancouver Island traced back to Fraser River source

However, the new artificial turf had been in use successfully from its 2015 installation until now.

On Monday, SD61 made a decision to close the field indefinitely as thousands of the artificial plastic green blades of grass are finding their way directly into Bowker Creek and likely the ocean. For now it will be covered with a tarp. This will prevent users from tracking it off field, and stop the wind from blowing the material off field.

Spokesperson Lisa McPhail noted SD61 will be replacing the turf in its entirety, but didn’t know when.

She noted the school district already installed mats into the storm drains and tarp barriers at the base of the fence to catch the plastic.

SD61 will also replace the field entirely which will have a major impact on Bays United. The football club is in the third year of a 25-year deal with SD61 as its primary user.

Bays Utd. spokesperson Jen Morgan said they have been displaced and have put a notice out to the membership as their field scheduler desperately seeks alternate places to play.

“We are told that its closed indefinitely until there’s a solution,” Morgan said.

The severity of the artificial grass problem was brought to light in part due to Oak Bay resident Angus Matthews. Last week Matthews was walking his dog by the exposed section of Bowker Creek between the high school’s new artificial soccer turf and Oak Bay Recreation Centre. He noticed some funny white strips of plastic in the grass.

A group of concerned residents who are alerted to the disintegrating Oak Bay High turf combed Willows Beach where Bowker Creek enters the Salish Sea and found eight strands of green plastic. They can’t prove the strands are from the Oak Bay High turf but they are identical in appearance.
(Angus Matthews Photo)/td>

Upon further inspection, the white strips are the same blades of artificial grass but are from the painted lines that define the pitch, such as the sidelines and penalty area.

“It’s shedding a shocking amount of plastic into the environment,” Matthews said. “I realized the grass next to Bowker Creek is loaded, covered, in the green plastic threads. The drains are covered with them too. It’s going straight into Bowker and with this fall flow of water, straight to the ocean.”

On Friday, Matthews and a group of four people brought a Shop Vac and rakes. After a few minutes they realized that remediation was going to take a major effort. On Sunday, members of the same group combed Willows Beach where Bowker Creek flows into the Salish Sea and found evidence of plastic green strands with a very similar likeness.

READ MORE: School district pursues legal compensation for Oak Bay High grass field

Artificial grass clippings collected into a pile at Oak Bay High. Parents of students noticed the turf material actually sheds and the small pieces are finding their way into Bowker Creek.
(Angus Matthews Photo)

“From my point of view, it’s great to see people using the field and I’m not sure it should be closed completely, we just want to see the plastic contained and managed,” Matthews said. “We can’t prove [the plastic at Willows] is from the Oak Bay High plastic turf field but it’s a pretty good candidate.”

Matthews did some math and estimated the artificial field is made up of about 90 tonnes of plastic, the equivalent of nine million single-use 0.5 litre water bottles.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read