Turf war: Residents launch petition against fake grass in Cote-des-Neiges soccer field
There's a turf war brewing in Côte-des-Neiges.
A plan to convert a natural grass soccer field into a synthetic one has some people worried about potential health and environmental risks.
"I'm very concerned about it," said Marc Perez, a local resident.
Perez, whose children regularly play in Mackenzie King Park, said he's worried there could be long-term health effects from artificial grass. He and others have collected more than 2,000 signatures in protest of the synthetic field.
"If there's any leaking into the water pipe, it will affect the health of the whole neighbourhood," he said.
A growing number of cities in the U.S., including Boston, have banned artificial turf in parks because of the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a toxic "forever chemical" that never fully degrade.
"It has been shown that it accumulates in the body and just recently we've heard in the news that there's enough evidence right now to curb our use of that and stop creating more opportunities to be poisoned by these chemicals," said Line Bonneau, another concerned citizen.
Firefighters across Canada recently sounded the alarm over concerns these same chemicals found in their protective gear may be harming their health.
But Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, the borough mayor for Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, said there's a need for a quality field in Côte-des-Neiges that can be used for longer periods.
"There's other concerns that we need to consider. The fact that we need our youth to move more. We need to stay away from temptations of negative groups or violence, for example," the mayor said.
But the group said synthetic fields have been shown to contribute to urban "heat islands" — something the city has been trying to reduce. The borough mayor said mitigation measures, like planting more trees, could help offset heat from the field.
"It's really for me the challenge of our generation, meaning how do we ensure an inclusive ecological transition," Katahwa said.
Some residents aren't convinced a new field is the answer.
"Converting something that's already green into a synthetic turf is not the solution," Perez said.
The grass isn't going anywhere just yet. The borough council is set to vote on the project on July 4.