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Park Board statement on closure of Sunset Beach Park and field

April 23 2018

Sunset Beach Park

The Vancouver Park Board will attempt to have Sunset Beach Park and field open to the public in six weeks, by early June. This revised estimate of field impacts after the 4/20 marijuana event comes after a full inspection of the field by senior park operations staff this morning. A forecast of hot and dry weather this week will greatly assist us in preparing the wet field for rehabilitation.
 
Park operations staff did a preliminary inspection in the immediate aftermath of the event and fenced the field to protect the damaged field from public use over the weekend. Park Board and City staff worked together all night after 4/20 to clean event debris on the field, but there were still objects such as glass and discarded edibles on the field that posed a danger to the public. The fencing was installed on Saturday morning partially as a protective measure to ensure safety, particularly for children and dogs.

Rehabilitating Sunset Beach Park

The fencing used to close the field was repurposed by Park Board as it was ordered before 4/20 as protection for new plant beds, young trees and vulnerable species such as eucalyptus and palms. The fencing was removed from these plantings and used to close the field on Saturday morning after the preliminary inspection.
 
The process to rehabilitate Sunset field involves the following steps:

  •  Drying the field – requires a good long stretch of warm weather
  • Cleaning the field – ensuring debris such as cigarette butts, metals and glass are fully removed so machinery can operate
  • Aerating the field – Soils can become compacted through heavy use and thatch (a fibrous layer of dead grass stems, leaves and roots) can develop. Aeration, the process of puncturing the surface of the soil, mitigates this by allowing oxygen into the roots, carbon dioxide to escape and water and nutrients to more easily flow through the soil.  Aeration is necessary for healthy turf grass.
  • Topdressing the field – This process involves spreading an organic mixture - usually sand, soil, clay or compost or a mixture of these materials - over the field. This helps even out the field, adding an extra element of safety for athletes. Topdressing is like a conditioner for athletic fields, giving turf a fuller feel and extra layer of protection.
  • Seeding and germination – waiting for the grass to grow enough so that public use does not damage the grass. With the right preparation, new turf will have shallow roots in about two weeks. This first stage of root growth is very sensitive and requires us to keep the public off the vulnerable young grass. In fact, all weight should be kept off the grass to allow for healthy, resilient turf with deep roots. This takes between 30-45 days in good conditions.

Ensuring field's long-term viability

The Park Board understands that Sunset Beach Park is a much loved community asset, and provides vital recreation space for the dense downtown core. We regret any closure, but must take steps to ensure the long-term viability of this field which also experienced major impacts in 2017 during the same event. Sunset Park field was closed for 10 weeks last spring after the 4/20 event.
 
The Park Board will tally all costs associated with the field restoration and other related expenses and will be billing organizers for these costs. A full accounting of 4/20 costs will be released by the City and Park Board when all associated expenses are in.
 
Organizers did install about $30,000 worth of plastic turf protection around the main stage at this year’s event, which helped to mitigate the cumulative damage. 
 
The Park Board will continue to work with partners at the City to encourage organizers to find a more suitable, alternate location for the event in future years.