City of Ottawa set to replace 'sandpaper-like' Minto turf after just 2 years

The City of Ottawa is looking at replacing up to $500,000 worth of artificial turf at Minto Field behind the Nepean Sportsplex, just two years after it was installed.

Football players began complaining of abrasions soon after artificial surface installed in 2015

Artificial turf similar to this was installed at Ottawa's Minto Field in 2015. (The Canadian Press)

The City of Ottawa is looking at replacing up to $500,000 worth of artificial turf at Minto Field behind the Nepean Sportsplex, just two years after it was installed.

The turf, installed in 2015, was intended for field hockey, soccer and football.

But some of the young athletes soon began complaining of cuts, scrapes and ripped equipment after falling on the surface some described as feeling "like sandpaper."

"Upset parents. Upset kids. A lot of kids didn't want to play on the field anymore," said Scott Boxall, president of the Myers Rides Football Club.

The city didn't expect to have to replace the turf so soon, said Dan Chénier, general manager of recreation, culture and facilities for the City of Ottawa, but now it's looking at doing just that.

Test-driving new turf

Chénier said when the city first consulted teams that would be playing on the field, it showed them only small samples of the turf before choosing a supplier for the $1.3-million project.

There's also the challenge of finding turf that meets the needs of several different sports, he said.

So in mid-February, the city will bring in a large sample of turf from Montreal-based Nexxfield and ask players from several sports teams to try it out.

Boxall has high hopes the Myers Riders will return to their home field by this coming fall.

"It's supposed to be the same turf that they use at the Olympic Stadium, and in the end zones of BMO Field in Toronto. So if it's good enough there, I'm going to hope it's good enough to put down here too," said Boxall.

Scratchy turf could be reused

Even though the turf at Minto Field is being replaced after just two years, the ward councillor doesn't consider the replacement project a complete waste of money.

That's because the underlay that was also upgraded in a bid to prevent concussions will remain, Coun. Keith Egli said.

The city may also redeploy the scratchy turf at other city facilities such as lawn bowling greens, batting cages or putting greens, where athletes don't typically fall or skid, Egli said.

Artificial turf is in demand by local sports organizations because it can be used earlier and later in the season. Once installed, it's also less costly to maintain than natural grass fields, Chénier said.