Artificial turf doesn’t fit with city’s green goals

Campbell River seems to have developed a split personality of late

Campbell River seems to have developed a split personality of late. On the one hand is the desire to be “natural.” There is a huge effort to restore the land in the estuary, get rid of invasive species and return to the natural state. Organic community gardens springing up, water conservation is mandated, and we have an environmental department, which has championed the installation of a green, living roof on city hall, installation of composting facilities and offers lessons in how to compost. Yard wastes are picked up and composted.

The fleet of city vehicles is going green with hybrid vehicles coming on stream, Charging stations for electric vehicles are springing up. The foreshore will be made back to a natural beach. Great stuff!

What happens next? We turn our natural turf playing fields into artificial fields? Is this consistent? Lets look deeper. Artificial fields are basically plastic. They are plastic pellets, treated with chemical, dyed, extruded, twisted, and sewn in a huge energy gobbling industrial plant. Chemstrand (later renamed Monsanto) made the first artificial turf. Yes, that would be the same company of Round-up and biological engineering notoriety. Another giant chemical company 3M then got in the business. Later entrants are from China. After the artificial ingredients are finished, they are essentially chemically inert, except for the fill that gives them resiliency, generally ground up rubber tires the production of which in itself is a huge industrial process. Contrast this with grass turf which is grown locally and which breathes in CO2 and releases oxygen. The CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and the carbon sequestered as “grass”. It stays that way until the grass ultimately rots down into compost, which just happens to be a great material to add to those new “organic gardens” we are building.

Is someone at city hall missing something here? Is that something some sober thought about where the city is going, what we want to be or is it trumped by a consuming desire that sports teams get more days of practice? Has anyone realized that with appropriate drainage, permeable sub bases and new varieties of grass that natural fields can do most everything those artificial fields do? As a bonus, natural fields are more self-cleaning. Where does dog doo and deer or coon poop go on an artificial field? In a natural turf field, the residues break down and fertilize the grass.

Gerald Dennison

Campbell River