So we’re getting a new stadium in Regina for our Roughriders. That’s pretty exciting news. And with a price tag of $278 million, it’s bound to be an impressive space when it’s completed in 2017.
But that announcement sparked a question in my mind.
Why do we not keep anything old in this province?
Our first instinct, once a building is a little out of date, is to knock it down and build a new one.
I hear that the current Taylor Field (or Mosaic Stadium, whatever — it will always be Taylor Field to me) is not serving the needs of the community or the athletes anymore. But couldn’t we fix it up so that it does? It’s an open air stadium, for Pete’s sake — there’s no way the roof could be wrecked. I think it’s a pretty sad statement about our culture that we won’t even consider fixing it up. We’re just going to throw it away and build a new one.
We tend to do that a lot in Saskatchewan.
If something is old (or what we consider old), what do we do? We tear it down.
Churches, schools, or other examples of earlier architecture — it doesn’t matter. We want new.
Or do we?
There is very little left of the early history of this province — and I mean early as in when the pioneers came to settle here, though there is also very little evidence left that tribes of First Nations people lived here at one point.
And something built in 1905 is not old, in the whole scheme of things.
I’ve stood inside an 11th century church and a 10th century castle in England. The castle was in such good condition, people could still be living in it today if they wanted to put up with tiny rooms made for much-shorter individuals, and no inside toilet or running water. And the church was still used for weekly services, as well as concerts and other community events.
But in England, and other European countries, they value the past. They care for it; make sure it doesn’t fall down, that it will last into the future to tell the story of their past.
Here, newer is always better. And I think we’re going to regret that mindset one day.
One day, we’re going to look around, and nothing is going to be even a little bit old. We will have no history, no way of telling the story of our progress to people who come to visit, because there won’t be anything left.
The new stadium in Regina is just the most recent example of our “knock it down” culture.
The Humboldt Public School building here in town is another. It’s going to be torn down essentially because its upkeep was neglected for decades, up until the point that it would be cheaper to build new than to fix up the old. That may have been the whole purpose of its neglect in the first place.
But so what if it costs more? That’s what we should be saying, if we want to preserve these buildings.
And of course it costs more to keep old than to build new. Of course it does. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Just ask the owner of any old manor house in England.
The question, really, isn’t what method will cost less, but how much value do we place on history, and preserving it for future generations?
It’s not much, it seems, from our attitudes.
We won’t even keep Taylor Field.