Scratchy Minto Field turf being replaced after all

The on-again, off-again plans to replace the turf at Minto Field in Ottawa are on again after the city came up with a less expensive plan.

City of Ottawa finds lower-cost alternative to replace turf that led to football complaints

New artificial turf was installed at Minto Field in 2015 to make it better for field hockey, but football players and coaches say it made it worse for them. The city is moving ahead with plans to replace the surface. (The Canadian Press)

The on-again, off-again plans to replace the turf at Minto Field in Ottawa are on again after the city came up with a cheaper plan.

The city spent $1.3 million to replace the field at the Nepean Sportsplex in 2015 to make it better suited for field hockey, but football teams quickly complained the new surface was too rough and scratchy for players.

This winter the city said it would move that turf to fields where people don't fall as often and install a new surface, but called off those plans in late July when the only option they had was deemed too expensive at just under $1.3 million.

Now the city said Monday it has found a "creative, innovative and lower cost solution" to replace the turf at a cost of just under $800,000 by negotiating directly with the manufacturer Nexxfield.

"Minto Field has been a hub of citywide activity and a lot of sporting events," said Dan Chenier, the city's general manager of recreation, cultural and facilities services.

"It's got the bleachers, it's got the lights … it's a great site to hold sporting events at and to have it limited to so few sports was not a good situation."

'We finally have our home back'

The general manager of the Myers Riders football club, which has been kept off its main field the last two seasons, called it fabulous news.

"We finally have our home back," said Tina Milito.

"It also gives our players a sense of pride to be able to call someplace home and logistically, it will make things much easier to schedule and help lower our costs."

Milito said they'd had to pay to use fields in Beckwith Township, which is further away, or at the University of Ottawa, which was expensive.

The team also couldn't fundraise by running a canteen when they were away from Minto Field, she said.

A director with the Nepean Nighthawks field hockey club said the new field would be a downgrade for them, but they support it because it will be good for the community as a whole.

Sandeep Chopra, the Nighthawks director of player development, said the team has given the city a few ideas where it could install the outgoing turf, which the city says it would like to reuse.

Money from developer fund

The money is coming out of the city's cash-in-lieu of parkland money, where developers who don't include park space in their projects instead give money to the ward and city to fund park projects elsewhere.

About $600,000 is coming from the city-wide fund, while $100,000 each will come from the funds from Knoxdale-Merivale, which includes the field, and the neighbouring Barrhaven ward.

Chenier said that money from the councillors wasn't on the table in July.

The field will close by early October for construction to begin and if the weather cooperates, it could be ready in the spring, according to the city.