Opinion: Prudence guides tough turf choices

School district takes a new look at parents' artificial turf concerns

Despite the adage that “you can’t fight city hall,” sometimes stepping up and challenging the status quo pays off.

While a definite decision has yet to be announced, we reported earlier this week that the Greater Victoria School District was close to approving an alternative to the usual turf when it replaces Oak Bay High field this spring.

District secretary-treasurer Mark Walsh described re-evaluating the issue as “more of a prudent decision than anything else.

“There were some community concerns raised with respect to the crumb rubber infill so the board asked the superintendent to look at some alternatives.”

The Oak Bay News reported back in December about concerns among some parents that the use of crumb rubber pellets commonly used as underlay for artificial turf could cause health concerns.

At the time, SD61 superintendent Piet Langstraat didn’t anticipate changing the field plans, based on available information. The district would rely on its “partners in health. … Any time a parent or group of parents express a concern, I take it seriously … I do look for the information that does come from the people I consider the experts, in this case it would be Island Health.”

Fast forward 2 1/2 months and the district is giving the issue another look. While available information still points to the safety of the crumb rubber, questions arising in the U.S. and the public prompted the district to look at potential alternatives.

The new recommendation answers both fiscal and health-related what-ifs: “If the science changes in five years there’s virtually no way a school could replace every field,” Walsh said.

The compromise recommended is not the organic coconut-based material parents had suggested – staff had concerns about its longevity and maintenance costs – but as an alternative staff recommends Thermoplastic Elastomers, described as virgin rubber in the form of bead-like hard pellets.

The product would have the same useful life and maintenance cost as crumb rubber but would come at a higher initial cost.

While the option still must be OK’d by the board, if approved the district would explore funding options to help cover costs.

The parents did the right thing by presenting decision-makers with both the issue and a potential alternative. The school district listened and took another look.

At the end of the day, prudence may spell a win for all.

 

Just Posted

Victoria mayor preparing to tour Alberta oil sands

Lisa Helps heads to Alberta after an invitation came from Calgary councillor Ward Sutherland

Canadian Premier League announces media partnership with international broadcaster

Langford Mayor Stew Young said partnership is a “big deal” for Langford

UPDATE: Saanich Police respond to weapons incident on Veron Avenue

Police are asking the public to avoid 800-block until further notice

Canada’s first home game in the America Rugby Championships comes this Friday

It’s Canada versus Chile Feb. 22 at Westhills Stadium in Langford

Canadians spent more than $8 billion on pet-related items in 2017

Fifty-seven per cent of Canadian households own pets

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Most Read