Cork out, Nike Grind in for N. Cowichan field

New information about options for the proposed Sherman Road artificial turf field sent North Cowichan councillors back to reword a motion.

They had decided on April 15 to go ahead with putting out a tender for building the field, but include the possibility of using such materials as cork or coconut husks.

However, since then, the municipality’s parks and recreation director Ernie Mansueti discovered that the cork infill system doesn’t drain quickly enough in very wet weather to actually shed the water. On top of that, in hot and cold weather the cork surface turns hard, which leads to safety and playability issues as well.

Mansueti said he has been able to get information from the City of Port Coquitlam, which has such a field.

In addition, some research done by the Division 1 Cowichan Soccer Club also shows that there is concern that a cork field is not as comfortable to play on in hot weather, he said.

"The Cowichan Valley Soccer Association is now concerned that the cork field may not be playable in very wet, cold or hot weather. The CVSA have committed $300,000 to capital costs of this facility," he said.

So far, several other options have been examined for an artificial surface and Mansueti

urged council to pull back the cork/coconut husk idea and go ahead with the synthetic turf project as designed and engineered, including a product called Nike Grind as one of the alternative infill options.

Coun. Rob Douglas, who has been the prime mover behind trying to get alternative surfaces in the mix, asked if there might just be a difference between manufacturers of the cork/coconut husk surface that is causing the problem but Mansueti replied, "where we are, I’m more concerned about the wet weather in B.C."

Coun. Kate Marsh and Coun. Joyce Behnsen said they still had concerns about the idea at all while Coun. Al Siebring asked Mansueti if the Nike Grind – which is made from recycled athletic shoes – would cost more.

Mansueti told him, "I’d say that was certain," suggesting it could be $200,000 more.

"If it’s above budget, it’s back to you," he said.

Coun. Tom Walker wanted to see some forward movement.

"This council has heard there might be some health concerns with the surface. We’ve checked it and received assurances. Now we know it’s a safe way to go. I’d like to see us proceed. I think it’s time to move on," he said.

Councillors votes to go to the next stage, replacing the cork/coconut husk option with Nike Grind.