Good Bones

The Town of Oakville is giving the Oakville Arena – located on Rebecca St – an uplift.  The 64 year old building will have $29 million of renovations, updates, and additions.

Driving past I had to stop and take a few pictures before the original structure was entirely engulfed by the new. I had to capture the construction of the original structure.

Take a close look at the construction of the domed roof… its wood.  Wood from the 1950s.

It got me thinking about structures built well from the start, it got me thinking about athletes who are built well from the start (and conversely those who are not).

Today our primary building block for structures is steel bar reinforced concrete. Problem… as with most things we do these days, we are little concerned about the long term. Steel reinforced concrete allows us to build taller and lighter structures than if there was no steel. Fabulous! We can leverage a plot of land by building floor after floor after floor. What few mention is that steel bar reinforced concrete has a long term issue… the steel eventually rusts, the concrete loosens, deteriorates and falls away from the steel, eventually leading concrete to literally fall off in chunks, or it having to be cleared away, the underlying structure cleaned up and reinforced to prevent the entire structure from collapsing. Wonder why construction on the elevated Gardiner never seems to end, its because it can never end because if it ever did stop… the Gardiner would come crumbling down. All thanks to the go-to solution of steel bar reinforced concrete. At the time of its original construction, the concept of an elevated highway made affordable by using steel bar reinforced concrete must have come across as space age brilliance.  Today, the Gardiner is a drain on the City of Toronto budget to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars (verging on billions if you add up past, present and future commitments).

Funny, eh? The pyramids have stood centuries, the Gardiner cannot last one.  The pyramids were built with solid blocks of rock, yet the Gardiner was built with 21st century architectural and construction technology. So… are we actually progressing or regressing as a result of all this so called technology?

We can erect a structure in no time flat… is that what matters?  Is what matters how quickly we can complete a project, and how many projects we can complete all at once? What about getting one project done, and done well… with quality, with excellence. Nope. No time for that.

We are busier than ever, moving faster than ever, doing more than ever, but are we solving anything or simply creating more problems, while kicking the can down the road for the problems that have already started to boomerang? It seems all that we are doing is loading future generations with debt and with projects that we know today will crumble if not maintained constantly.

I remember the day my daughter came home from school and shared that she learnt on her field trip that First Nations people (she didnt refer to a specific tribe) made decisions based on how that decision would impact multiple generations into the future.  If the impact was negative, even if the here and now stood to benefit, the decision was not approved by the elders.

Just stop and think about that: how many people put any effort into just thinking let alone thinking about how their decisions, how their behaviour today will impact tomorrow, and their children tomorrow? Does anyone consider consequences or costs to today’s actions? How much time do you put into the decisions that will affect your health, your well-being, your performance in life, that will affect the health, wellness and performance of your children? Anything beyond a couple seconds? Anything beyond a poll of what everyone else is doing?

The parallel to sport, to training, to performance, to health is this…

We have our own structures: our body, our brain, our organs, which total as our health.

If we are ‘building’ our health the same way we build buildings… well, lets just say that the epidemics and crises we face should be no surprise. That we live in a society of victims afraid of their own shadow, afraid of being shamed and hated at any instant, so fearfilled that now the average person is not healthy but unhealthy: overweight, obese, addicted to medical prescriptions, recreational drugs, or all of the above. It really should be no surprise based on how we behave.

Its time we stop with the bandaid – i.e. steel reinforced concrete – solutions, which although tempting, and appear to be ideal solutions for the here and now… are not long term solutions.

What do you want your structure to look like, to work like in the coming years and decades? Do you want it to be like the Gardiner? Needing almost a billion in renovations to keep it alive? Seems with all the cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, and health and wellness interventions that that is the plan for most.  Lets continue to bandaid over the crumbling infrastructure despite the fact that the core is rotting. The Gardiner was once a triumph of city planning and construction, now its called an eye sore and a barrier between the City of Toronto and its beautiful waterfront? Is that what you have become? An eye sore, with the health of your body and brain a barrier between you and your potential?

What about being like the Oakville Arena? Built from what many would consider inferior material as compared to concrete, yet the original building is not being torn down, far from it, it is been added onto and more importantly the building is seen as beautiful and worthy of upkeep so that many generations to come get to enjoy skating and playing hockey under its wonderful wooden roof.

FYI… we are cutting the same corners in residential construction.

A firefighter whose daughter swam with my daughter a few years back shared with me one day that he was called out to a fire in a row of townhomes.  Due to poor construction, they no longer enter these buildings for risk of total collapse. The construction these days is so poor – the cross beams supporting the roof are not nailed together but held by thin NON FIRE RESISTANT metal screens – that when a fire breaks out, it literally melts these screens leading to total collapse/cave-ins of the home. He shared that firefighters have been caught on main and basement levels when the entire residential structure above caved in and collapsed on them.

Gee… now why would we skimp on nails, NAILS for crying out loud! Replacing them with thin sheets of metal?

Because some MBA sitting at their labtop hired to figure out how to save a few pennies identifies that nails are too expensive.

Because today… money matters more than human life.

Because today… time matters more than human life.

Because today… now matters more than human life.

Because today… what we want matters more than the impact it has on our children.

Because today… I want what I want, and all that matters is that I get what I want… NOW!

Its time for all the adults to grow-up and start acting and making the tough decisions that adults are supposed to make.  For their own well being, and that of their children.