Artificial turf field under construction at UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan is replacing the natural grass sports field on campus with artificial turf, which will result in a much longer playing season for UBC Okanagan students and community athletes, while conserving water.

“In the spring of 2007 the UBC Okanagan Athletics department completed a comprehensive business plan that determined the biggest need for outdoor sports facilities in the Okanagan Valley was artificial turf fields,” says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan.

Construction of the artificial field began September 22 and is expected to be completed mid- to late-November. The artificial turf consists of a permeated plastic carpet with plastic grass blades covered with layers of silica sand and crumb rubber to hold the blades erect.

The field also features a heat-reflecting surface layer of crumb rubber. Construction requires the removal of moisture-retaining materials such as clay, which is replaced with up to a metre of free-draining material such as gravel. It’s all compacted to provide a hard surface on which to lay the turf. Much of the fill needed for the project is coming from existing campus construction sites, making the process highly efficient.

“A natural turf field was pretty ineffective when it came to meeting students’ needs,” says Johnson. “Like the City of Kelowna, we had to close the natural field at the end of October and couldn’t re-open it until mid-April -- not an ideal situation for students on campus from September to May. We anticipate that the new artificial turf field can be used up to 10 months out of the year. And we’re very pleased to offer facility use to the community as well as to the UBC Okanagan campus community.”

The surface of the artificial turf is 153m by 75m and will be lined to meet international standards for soccer, Canadian football, field hockey and field lacrosse. It will be able to accommodate three mini soccer games at a time running cross-field. Once constructed, anyone from the community interested in booking the field can contact the Athletics and Recreation Dept. at 250-807-9168.

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