‘It’s frustrating taking three steps back’: Oak Bay artificial turf is threatening creek wildlife

'It's frustrating taking three steps back': Oak Bay artificial turf is threatening creek wildlife
Friends of Bowker Creek says it was able to clean up 60 pounds of artificial turf clumps that had made its way to the creek in one hour.

Clumped pieces of artificial turf have been discovered inches away from Bowker Creek in Oak Bay, threatening the wildlife who call it home.

A local Victoria organization known as Friends of Bowker Creek was made aware of the clumps of turf showing up in the parking lot across from the Oak Bay High School turf. Once notified board chair Gerald Harris and his team went to the parking lot and picked up more than 60 pounds of the turf residue in just one hour.

“It gets run over repeatedly by traffic, stepped on, it even turns down into dust on the pavement. When the first big rain storm comes along, it will all go down the storm drain into Bowker Creek,” said Harris.

Harris, along with his board colleague Ruth Curry, are angry about the situation as it adds yet another barrier to improving the health of the creek that runs into the Salish Sea.

“There’s lots of local citizens and stewardship groups who are making their best efforts to restore the creek to some form of watershed health, and it’s frustrating when we have to take three steps back,” said Curry.

Curry added that the solutions provided by the Greater Victoria School District are proactive, but the actions taken are not sustainable long-term.

In a statement to CHEK News, the district noted that it is aware of the situation and has added more mitigating measures to help reduce the waste from the field. Some of the action it is taking include twice a week clean up, putting mesh under the grates and moving other youth activities to different fields to decrease the overall use.

This isn’t the first time plastic from the field has threatened the health of the creek. In 2020, the district replaced the field after the plastic blades of grass were shedding off of the field.

Friends of Bowker Creek is hoping that the district provides some long-term solutions to help bring the creek up to a cleaner standard for the wildlife.

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