Southwest borough residents have nixed a hefty provincial grant and opted to stick with a grass field rather than switch to an artificial turf on a soccer pitch in De La Verendrye Park.

Prior to last November's municipal election, plans were in place to install the $1.2 million artificial turf field but incoming councillors re-examined the dossier and opted to allow the field to stay natural.

“The new councillors, they want to change my decision so they want a natural soccer field,” said Southwest borough Mayor Benoit Dorais.

Local councillor managed to convince the province that grass would be just as good.

Dorais said that he still prefers an artificial field, which he argues will allow more hours of soccer to be played because unlike grass, there's no limit on the number of hours one can play on the artificial turf.

He contends that the higher initial costs of an artificial field would be recouped in the long run through lower maintenance costs. Sports seasons will also be lengthened with the plastic grass, starting in April rather than in mid-May. 

Both options would require the field to be fenced off, as a fence would prevent the grass field from being trampled by overuse.

But citizens preferred the natural grass and let their councillors know.

Councillor Alain Vaillancourt noted that several nearby residents felt that the artificial turf - which can raise temperatures by about five degrees on a hot day - might create a heat island.

The local soccer association had been hoping to get an artificial surface.

"Natural grass is okay but we need fences to keep people out," said Isabelle Limoge of the Southwest Soccer Association.

However Vaillancourt noted that that having a solid high-quality field was the most important thing of all.

"We learned that sporting organizations want a good playing surface for their kids, whether it be natural or synthetic," said Vaillancourt.

One mother whose two kids spend a lot of their free time playing on the field said that she supported the grass option. "We are surrounded by concrete and there’s the Turcot Interchange so the natural grass is important to us,” Marie France Dionne told CTV Montreal.

The field resurfacing is part of a larger project to renovate the park that has seen citizens offer input on various aspects of the plan, including upgrades to the chalet and tennis courts near to the Jolicoeur metro station.