University of Toronto field to be replaced by artificial turf

Feb 7, 2013 | News, Sports


University College at the U of T, Courtesy Nick Moreau

By Brandon Humber

The University of Toronto’s plan to tear up a large field on its St. George campus and replace it with artificial turf has landed the school in hot water.

The $ 9.5 million field is meant to serve as the field hockey playing surface during the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The University College Council has expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the artificial turf, but according to Rick Doyle, President of the Synthetic Turf Council, there is no real danger posed.

“The EPA, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, lots of State departments, health departments, departments of the environment have studied this over many years and there is no independent, credible study out there that says there is any human health or environmental risk from synthetic turf,” Doyle told Humber News.

Doyle said that artificial turf could actually benefit the environment in some ways.

“The most common infill is crumb rubber which is ground up auto and truck tires, the industry recycles 20 million tires a year,” he said.

Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance Franz Hartmann said while recycling old tires is better than using newly created plastic, there are still other environmental factors to consider.

“At some point the (artificial turf) is not going to be used anymore and it’s going to have to end up probably being thrown out,” said Hartmann. “So it’s not just the environmental impact of putting the thing down on the ground.”

“One hopes (the University of Toronto) has done their homework because it would be a shame if doing this ended up creating more environmental harm than anything, because as I recall, the Pan Am Games (goal) was to make it as sustainable as possible,” he said.

Humber College’s Sustainability Manager Lindsay Walker said U of T has a reputation of respecting the environment and she is giving them the benefit of the debt.

“The University of Toronto is very forward-thinking in terms of sustainability…so I think they probably would have thought about it and it’s probably okay,” said Walker.