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 trustees of the Spences Bridge Improvement District argue that one reason the EV charging station (l) should be moved is because it could compromise emergency response from the nearby fire hall. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Time is running out for Spences Bridge EV charging station

Lease for the site runs out at the end of January and no new agreement has been reached

Areas in blue show properties in Cache Creek zoned C1, which the village’s Cannabis Regulatory Framework proposes as properties where retail cannabis stores could be sited. The area outlined with a dotted orange line shows a 200 metre buffer zone around Cache Creek Elementary School, within which no retail cannabis establishments could operate. (Photo credit: Village of Cache Creek)
Cache Creek council gets more input on cannabis regulations

Council considers options to regulate retail cannabis sales and production within the village

(from l) Gordon and Lee Berdan in front of the framed ensign from HMCS Sudbury which they recently presented to the Ashcroft Legion. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Ashcroft Legion continues helping community in tough times

Branch now also displays a recently donated artifact from WW II corvette HMCS Sudbury

Odours emanating from the former Wander Inn restaurant in Cache Creek, which now houses a cannabis grow op, has spurred a petition asking for more regulations around the production of cannabis for personal medical use. (Photo credit: <em>Journa</em>l files)
Cache Creek council supports petition seeking cannabis regulation

Petition asks for reform to licensing, oversight of production of cannabis for personal medical use

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read