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)

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: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

A Vancouver Island school district closed a high school’s artificial turf field after discovering it was shedding plastic into a nearby creek.

As first reported by Black Press Media, Greater Victoria School District (SD61) chose to close the turf at Oak Bay High School, near Victoria, after it learned that thousands of artificial plastic green blades of grass were finding their way directly into nearby Bowker Creek, and likely the ocean.

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

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.

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 a nearby Creek.
(Angus Matthews Photo)/td>

Upon further inspection, he realized the white strips are blades of artificial grass from the painted white lines that define the pitch.

“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.”

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

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 similar likeness.

“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.

SD61 spokesperson Lisa McPhail told Black Press Media that SD61 will replace the turf in its entirety, but didn’t know when. She said the District has installed mats into the storm drains and tarp barriers at the base of the fence to catch the plastic. For now the turf will be covered with a tarp to prevent users from tracking it off field and stop the wind from blowing it into the creek.

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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

Just Posted

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read