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 Men’s Centre in Nanaimo, with help of volunteers and with the support of local businesses and other donors, was able to complete a renovation project at the Fitzwilliam Street office. (Photos submitted)
Renovations raise spirits at Nanaimo’s men’s centre

Non-profit organization thanks volunteers and donors

A conceptual drawing of ‘complete streets’ work on Front Street in downtown Nanaimo. (McElhanney image)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bike lanes help cyclists enjoy a safer commute

Bicycles aren’t taking up more than their share of the road, says letter writer

AstraZeneca vaccine is becoming available at B.C. pharmacies outside the Lower Mainland, as of Friday, April 9. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Immunization program expands to five Nanaimo pharmacies

Residents 55-65-year-old can get their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

First responders were on scene of a motor vehicle incident and confrontation on Wallace Street in Nanaimo the morning of April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Youth arrested after car crash in Nanaimo

Ford pickup sustained rear driver’s-side damage in crash near Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man was arrested after getting angry because Nanaimo RCMP would not return a shovel he had allegedly been swinging around. (File photo)
Man arrested after objecting to Nanaimo RCMP confiscating shovel he had been swinging around

Police say it was in the public interest not to return the tool to allegedly impaired suspect

Don Bonner, RDN board director, left, Tyler Brown, RDN board chairperson, and Sean De Pol, RDN director of water and wastewater services, at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre April 6. (Shawn Wagar photo)
Nanaimo’s $82-million pollution control centre upgrade now complete

Wastewater treatment enhanced at RDN’s Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Most Read