Petition aims to save five grass playing fields in Vancouver parks, stop conversion to synthetic turf, and keep fields accessible to all

Park Comparison artificial turf vs grass

Vancouver citizens have launched a petition to “Save Our Neighbourhood Parks.”

Link to Change.org online sign-ons is here.  

Download page to collect signatures: Save Vancouver parks grass fields petition Jan 2019

Here is the short description of “Keep our Parks Green, Healthy, and Accessible to All

The Vancouver Park Board is proposing to install five new lit synthetic turf fields adding to 12 existing artificial fields in Vancouver. This is apparently coming soon the the Park Board for a decision. The proposed locations are

  • Clinton Park,
  • Beaconsfield Park,
  • Hillcrest Park,
  • Kitsilano Secondary School and
  • Churchill Secondary School.

The petition raises the following concerns about artificial turf fields.

Costly synthetic fields prioritize paid-users, while the larger community comes second. We believe that fields must be accessible and open for everybody’s health and enjoyment.

• The environmental and health impacts are considerable and include, but are not limited to:

  1. off-gassing and toxins that children and others will inhale or come into contact with (Vancouver’s Public Health and Chief Medical Heath Officer recommends that players wash after contact with synthetic fields);
  2. microplastics that can wash into our waterways and migrate into our environment; massive amounts of additional landfill from expired turf (10 year lifespan), and increased stormwater run-off;
  3. loss of natural greenspaces that serve as carbon sinks, maintain good air quality and regulate temperature. Trees, plants, soil, insects, birds, animals and humans benefit from grass.

The new synthetic field proposal is inconsistent with the Park Board’s mission statement to “provide, preserve, and advocate for parks to benefit all people, communities and the environment.” [See statement below from Vancouver’s Director of Planning, 2016.]

The petition concludes, in a fast-growing city like Vancouver every inch of green space is precious. We all deserve to enjoy safe and healthy natural parks kept free from known toxins, carcinogens and plastic.

Say NO to the Park Board in replacing grass with plastic. Say NO to fencing off playing fields on public land.

More info:

Facebook Page: Save our Neighbourhood Parks
Contact: clintonpark2018@gmail.com

synthetic turf soccer pitches pollution

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The online version provides more detail, some of which is copied below.

… Social Impact of Synthetic Turfs
Fields are fenced. Permits are required to use the fields resulting in the larger community not in organized sports to lose access to the field. No food, bikes , or dogs are allowed on the fields making the field exclusive for paid-users.

Health Concerns with Synthetic Turf; Health Impact Assessment of the Use of Artificial Turf in Toronto https://bit.ly/2u7aCFB
• Artificial turf users may be exposed to the rubber particles and other hazardous components through several routes of exposure e.g. ingestion, inhalation, contact/dermal uptake
• Skin sensitivity to plastics, asthma, cancer, etc.
• Young children who may be at higher risk of directly ingesting or experiencing hand-to-mouth exposure.
• Cleaning materials used on artificial turf (i.e. sanitizers may be toxic).
• Regular disinfection/sanitation is required, as pathogens/algae are not broken down (e.g. blood, sweat, animal droppings/urine, etc);
• Survival of bacteria on artificial turf (i.e. Staphylococcus aureus and Methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA)).

How synthetic turf surfaces contribute to climate change; www.safehealthyplayingfields.org and www.synturf.org

Each synthetic turf surface:
1. Creates “heat island” effect: Synthetic turf and surfaces undesirably absorb, retain and emanate heat at temperatures and rates that are harmful to the environment.

2. Generates carbon dioxide et al: The manufacturing, installation, service and disposal of a 2-acre artificial turf field facility are responsible for the generation of a total of 55.6 tons of carbon dioxide, in addition to other greenhouse gases and pollutants.

3. Increases carbon footprint: Removes natural grass surfaces which eliminate the ability of that surface to reduce carbon dioxide by converting it into oxygen.

4. Contributes hydro carbon off gassing that puts bad stuff in our lungs: The thermodynamics of the turf in winter and summer conditions accelerates the breakdown of the synthetic grass fibers and rubber crumb into dust particles, which easily can be inhaled or ingested by children. Artificial turf releases more greenhouse gases in its production, transportation and processing than the maintenance of natural turf ever could.

5. Increases reliance on dirty fossil fuels: The production process for artificial turf is for the most part fueled by fossil fuels, as is its installation, after-sale maintenance and eventual disposal protocols.

6. Makes a hazardous waste cocktail: Hazardous materials include ingredients in the polyethylene/polypropylene blades, the crumb rubber infill, and ingredients in maintenance products like disinfectants, anti-static cling treatments, and solvents for seam repair. Recycled crumb rubber contains a number of chemicals that are known or suspected to cause adverse health effects. The most common types of synthetic rubber used in tires are composed of ethylene-propylene and styrene-butadiene combined with vulcanizing agents, fillers, plasticizers, and antioxidants in different quantities, depending on the manufacturer. Tire rubber contains metals (zinc, selenium, lead, and cadmium), phthalates, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

7. Degrades water quality: Increases stormwater runoff while degrading the quality of the water entering our storm drains and streams. Synthetic surface pollutant runoff in the form of rubber granules directly into storm and sewer drains, rivers and other bodies of water, and as seepage (as leachate) into ground and/or ground water and wells. Natural grass absorbs carbon dioxide, produces a cooling effect, and filters rain & storm water.

8. Ends up in a landfill: One artificial turf field contains approximately 120 tons of crumb rubber or 26,000 recycled tires. Typically, when a synthetic field is replaced, the old field is sent to a landfill. There are no real disposal issues with grass field.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO KEEP OUR PARKS GREEN, HEALTHY, AND ACCESSIBLE TO ALL

  •  Sign the petition, Save our Neighbourhood Parks
  •  Write to the City Councillors, Park Board Commissioners, and Mayor; vancouver.ca/your-government.aspx
  • Come to our facebook page; Save our Neighourhood Parks

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https://bylaws.vancouver.ca/bulletin/A013.pdf

City of Vancouver Planning By-law Administration Bulletins
Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability Department
453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4 tel 604.873.7000 fax 604.873.7100 planning@vancouver.ca

ARTIFICIAL TURF ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
Authority – Director of Planning
Effective August 23, 2016

The intent of this bulletin is to clarify the use and application of artificial turf in the private realm. The Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, and Development Services, Building and Licensing departments will not approve artificial turf installations on private property. The term “artificial turf” shall apply to any synthetic turf product that resembles turf grass. Artificial turf is not permitted on private property as the Director of Planning does not deem artificial turf to have fully permeable characteristics, as per Site Coverage regulations in the Zoning and Development By-law. In addition, artificial turf is not consistent with City of Vancouver plans, by-laws, and strategies aiming to protect and enhance ecosystems while improving access to nature for all. These plans, by-laws and strategies include: the Citywide Integrated Rainwater Management Plan (IRMP), the Protection of Trees By-law 9958, the Urban Forest Strategy, and the Biodiversity Strategy.

It is recognized that artificial turf is chosen over turf grass to address concerns regarding water use, pests, and infestations such as the European Chafer beetle. However, there are other alternatives to turf grass. Please consult the Waterwise Landscape Guidelines for recommendations regarding lawn alternatives, such as drought tolerant and low maintenance plantings.

One thought on “Petition aims to save five grass playing fields in Vancouver parks, stop conversion to synthetic turf, and keep fields accessible to all

  1. Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront. I expect an appropriate policy response to climate disruption from Park Board–not rubber playgrounds and synthetic grass plying fields. What is Park Board’s vision for our city, anyway?

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