First of all, a disclaimer: there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the CN Tower is in any way unsafe. By all means, continue paying $40 a ticket for admission to the SkyPod, if that’s what you like to do. Even so, a Star interview with Ned Baldwin, one of the tower’s architects, raises some questions about the structure’s long-term future.
According to Baldwin, the entire tower’s stability depends on anchors at the base of the building that keep the tension on steel cables that run throughout the structure. The anchors were built to last 300 years, but if by some chance something were to go wrong with them, there’s no way—or at any rate, no existing way—to fix or replace them. “If you x-ray the anchorages and found corrosion, and you couldn’t engineer a solution, you’d have to take it down,” he told the Star.
After 37 years, the tower is already starting to show its age. Anyone standing within 100 metres of the base can see that the concrete is slowly becoming a motley of different shades of beige—presumably a result of years of minor patch-ups to the exterior. Even if the tower’s anchors do last for centuries, there’s ultimately not a tremendous difference between a landmark and an eyesore. It’s not hard to imagine the tower crossing that line long before its structural supports wear out, and then the choice would be between tearing it down and investing millions of dollars in upkeep. Would Toronto be the same without its favourite pointy object?