Innovative Infill to be Used for New Turf Field
No need to turf it—Geo Turf infill, which contains coconut fibre and cork, can be recycled once the playing days of an artificial turf field are over.
At Monday's council meeting it was revealed that the infill material to be used in the artificial turf at BICS will be made of an organic, recyclable material, not the crumb rubber and silica sand many Islanders have opposed. Traditionally, artificial turf fields are infilled with crumb rubber and silica sand, substances that are not organic and not recyclable.
Some of the opposition to the new turf field on Bowen revolved around the use of the crumb rubber and silica sand infill.
According to Bowen's chief administrative officer, Hendrik Slegtenhorst, the municipality has been looking at the viability of using this material – called Geo Turf – for some time.
Community services manager Christine Walker says they worked to find a safe material for the field and this material can be used for kids to play on beyond soccer.
"That's part of the reason why we chose it," Walker said Wednesday, "it's not just safe for soccer but can be used by the entire community as a playground."
At the meeting, Slegtenhorst told council Geo Turf is lead-free, fully recyclable and contains coconut fibre and cork.
He told the meeting that the substance is highly permeable and has close to perfect drainage.
Council was told the Geo Turf fits within the budget of the artificial turf field.
Walker said the infill was created by a company called Geo Safe Play and began in Italy.
The company's website claims their product does not produce injuries of the kind plastic fields have been known to do.
FIFA, the international body governing soccer, uses Geo Turf and it is given extremely positive reviews in FIFA material.
To date it has had few installations in North America, the last one at a school in Boston as an artificial turf field in 2008.
Walker has been in touch with the environmental committee of the school and reports they are happy with their field. It has also been installed in New York City as a playground.
"It will actually be the first installation of this organic material in Canada," Walker said, noting that when the life of the field is done, the infill can be used for other purposes such as mulch.
The addition of an organic, recyclable infill may mitigate some of the opposition to a new artificial turf field, but for many there may remain reasons to oppose the new playing surface.
Earlier this week, Emily Van Lithe de Jeude, a turf opponent, said that for her, the use of Geo Turf makes little difference.
De Juede's reasons for opposing the turf installation are not simply the material going into the field, but other issues, including "the concept of us becoming an urban place" and the great expense, money she feels is much more needed elsewhere.
"Far less money could have created a more useful, natural field," she said. "This is better than it could have been though and I do feel better for the kids who will be playing on it."
Coun. Nerys Poole, who opposed the artificial turf field from the start, sees using Geo Turf as a positive development.
She is also happy with a budget resolution Mayor Bob Turner presented to council Monday, which states that, other than fundraising and grants, the field won't receive further monies until other recreation projects have been prioritized.
"I think it's great that it's organic and that it won't end up being in some landfill," Poole said over the phone Wednesday. "It just sounds a whole lot healthier and I'm very pleased they've found this."
Walker said the president of Geo Safe Play plans to fly out from New York next month to speak to council about Geo Turf. Members of the public may be invited along to listen.
At Monday's meeting, Slegtenhorst said the turf field project is on budget.
She said she is now more comfortable with the project.
Source: Bowen Island Undercurrent website
By Marcus Hondro