Soccer club still working toward artificial turf in Comox Valley

The Comox Valley United Soccer Club is seeking approval in principle from the regional district for a pair of artificial turf fields at Valley View Park.

The club proposes to construct the fields directly adjacent to its clubhouse. One would be exclusive to soccer while the other could accommodate field lacrosse, football and field hockey, in addition to soccer.

The lit fields would allow the club's 1,500-plus members to enjoy the 'beautiful game' on a year-round basis, thus extending the soccer season which is invariably interrupted due to field closures.

Turf consists of blades of synthetic grass held upright by a mixture of sand and rubber particles made from used tires. Plastic bottles are used for the backing into which the grass is woven.

Maintaining a synthetic field costs about $8,000 a year while grass runs about $25,000. The former yields at least 3,000 hours of use in a year and the latter about 600-700 hours, according to the project manager.

"It's (turf) very environmentally friendly," club president Matthew Blecha said Tuesday at committee of the whole proceedings. "We believe it will have long-lasting benefits to our community."

Besides Campbell River, Blecha said most Vancouver Island communities have invested in artificial turf fields. Even Bowen Island has one.

The CVUSC is committing $800,000 to the $4.05 million proposal. The club hopes the remaining $3.315 million, including $65,000 to relocate ball diamonds, could be decided by referendum or the Alternate Approval Process.

If the project receives the go-ahead, construction would begin in winter of 2012 and be completed by the summer.

Last fall, Courtenay Council gave the proposal its approval in principle.

The district will have an initial report about the turf fields next month.

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