Sunshine Coast school board sues company over sharp plastic, glass found in school fields

School officials on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast are trying to figure out how pieces of glass, plastic and metal were mistakenly spread across the fields of several schools. Ted Chernecki reports.

The Sunshine Coast school board has filed a lawsuit against a contractor they say deposited soil at several school fields where sharp pieces of plastic, glass and other items were found last year.

The board sent a warning to parents at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year to keep their children off the fields at seven schools in Sechelt, Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Madeira Park and Halfmoon Bay because of the hazardous objects.

According to the notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the school board hired a new contractor, Top Quality Top Soil, in June 2018 to give the sports fields a new topdressing.

Sunshine Coast school fields covered with bits of plastic, glass and ceramics

The contractor agreed to provide 50 truckloads of compost material mixed with river sand, assuring the school board it carried the “highest quality soil on the coast,” the suit reads.

Upon signing the contract with Top Quality, the school board advised the company the soil was needed to maintain the fields “and allow students, staff and community members to safely use the fields for school and recreational activities.”

The soil was delivered and deposited on the fields in August.

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A month later, according to the suit, the school board discovered the soil “contained debris, including large shards of metal, glass fragments, pieces of hard plastic, ceramic fragments, suphur pellets, nails and wood, along with plastic bags and other garbage.”

The suit alleges it took 1,500 hours for the school board’s maintenance team to remove the garbage from the soil. After a successful environmental assessment in October, the fields were finally re-opened on Oct. 24.

A letter sent to Top Quality by the school board’s legal team in January demanded $148,351 to cover the costs of cleaning the fields and the environmental assessment, which the suit alleges Top Quality has refused to pay.

Chilliwack school field littered with needles and condoms

The board alleges Top Quality failed to reasonably test, inspect or take care of the soil and misrepresented its quality while signing the contract.

“Such representations were recklessly or negligently made by Top Quality since the soil was unsuitable for use on the fields,” the suit reads.

“Top Quality knew or ought to have known that if the school board relied on its representations as to suitability, the school board would suffer loss and damage.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Top Quality has not yet filed a response to the suit and could not be reached for comment.

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