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Churchill Secondary could get new turf as part of park board plan

The Vancouver Park Board's plan to install a new turf field at Churchill highschool raises health concerns

Sir Winston Churchhill and its current grass field. Photo: Ana Rose Walkey
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Reported by Ana Rose Walkey

Two teenagers run through the grass on a sunny day at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, unaware that their grass field might be changed to synthetic turf.

According to the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Park Board is planning to install a new artificial turf field in Vancouver before the end of 2019 and the school is shortlisted along with Beaconsfield Park and Clinton Park.

The park board’s goal is to supply quality amenities to players of differing abilities and interests. Though some users of the current grass field would welcome the upgrade, others have concerns about the impacts of artificial turfs on their gear and bodies.

Artificial turf could impact health

Luca, a Churchill student whose mother only permitted the use of his first name, said he doesn’t want artificial turf because he’s worried that the little black turf pebbles will get in his eyes, cut his skin and ruin his shoes.

Jim O’Donovan, a sports medicine fellow at Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre, believes there is an adaptation period and that teenagers’ joints will become accustomed to the surface with time.

“Newer surfaces appear to be providing more cushioning,” O’Donovan said. “And watering it could reduce abrasions.”

Part of plan for all Vancouver high schools

The upgrade will cost about $2 million with funds from the Citywide Development Cost Levy, according to the park board. Their long-term goal is to install synthetic turf fields at all Vancouver high schools.

At a park board meeting on Oct. 2, Craig Woods, president of the Vancouver Field Sports Federation said “it’s the most cost effective use of taxpayer dollars. Kids get to use it during the day and the public during the evening and weekends.”

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