The Langford city council has revisited their decision to switch from grass to turf in front of new residential and business developments in the areas between the sidewalk and the road known as a ‘frontage.’
Ever since 2017, Langford has been installing faux grass turf instead of grass sod on new developments that have taken place throughout the city.
Initially, the council that passed this decision believed the turf would lower costs, reduce irrigation usage, and improve worker safety as well as maintenance, but in the nearly six years that have passed since the bylaw’s implementation, the opposite has proven true.
When the bylaw passed, the City of Langford agreed that it would incur the cost of 65% of the turf’s installation, with the turf’s developer covering 35% and providing a one-year warranty.
Since the implementation of the turf bylaw, a review has been conducted and shown that all projected savings the city anticipated were not met.
The cost of the turf itself skyrocketed 64%, from $85 to $133 per square metre. On the flip-side, sod costs have only increased by half, from $20 to $30 per square metre.
The city says that inflation and supply chain issues are to blame for the drastic uptick in prices.
By switching back to the old way of doing things, the city will save money because the 65/35 split will no longer be in place.
The developer will also save money as well because the $30 per square metre for sod that they are solely responsible for paying is still cheaper than the $46.55 per square metre they’d have to pay if turf was used.
Some additional findings the report unveiled are that the maintenance and repair costs of the turf was higher than anticipated, the turf doesn’t encourage the natural breakdown of organic material and feedback has been overwhelmingly negative.
The City of Langford spent around $33,000 in 2021 and $49,000 in 2022 alone on turf maintenance and installation.
During the council meeting, members of the public came out in droves to share their points of view on whether they saw the turf as an investment in the future or as a blight on the city’s budget.
“I’m happy to see that staff have brought a review of the maintenance, installation and replacement costs for artificial turf moving forward that shows the anticipated savings unfortunately haven’t been that, and that artificial turf is not environmentally friendly at all,” said one concerned citizen.
“Unfortunately it hasn’t been that good of an investment in the City of Langford.”
Another Langfordite brought up that the city should allow the turf that’s been implemented up until this point to be left to live out its life, rather than the city incurring the cost to tear it out immediately.
“While it does appear from the report that we have missed the mark in terms of cost-savings with artificial turf, I want to say that if we were to amend that bylaw, to not include new artificial turf, that would not mean the existing turf would need to be torn up willy-nilly,” said another concerned citizen.
The three options presented to city council by staff to resolve the matter of turf or sod were to either remove any and all turf requirements the original bylaw set in place and reinstate previous requirements for using sod, or that council should do nothing and let make developers’ and city funds be spent on the faux grass going forward.
Council spoke about the fact that as per the bylaw to return Langford to its previous standard of using sod, the existing turf would remain in place and no cost would be incurred by the city to remove it immediately.
New developments would use sod, turf in the community would see its life through before being replaced.
The council ended up voting unanimously in favour of going back to sod and being rid of turf requirements.