On the Grand River in Kitchener, Ontario, they built a nuclear bunker that was supposed to keep 40 Regional staff alive for a few months in the event of a nearby nuclear strike. It was built in 1966 and mothballed in 1992.
Back then, the makers didn’t have a perfect grasp on keeping people alive. Two of the materials it was made with, lead and asbestos, were known in the 1970s as being harmful to life. Lead could cause brain damage and asbestos caused mesothelioma.
The bunker was still used for other purposes until 2018 when they found that deadly mould was growing in it. Finally it was abandoned completely. Still the Region thought it could be used for something so they decided to renovate it.
When I think of nuclear bunkers, I think of people having to suit up to go into the dangerous outside, which could kill them. With this bunker, while restoring it, workers had to suit up before going inside it, because doing so might kill them. Just think of that cold war irony. It’s right up there with mutually assured destruction causing very little destruction.
Most communities have destroyed their old cold war bunkers. This one in Waterloo Region is the last publicly owned one in Canada and so the call is out about what to make this into.
So far it has been suggested that it be made into a museum, a community gathering space, a film location or a place where people could put their cheese to mature. For the first three suggestions, I think the bunker is too ugly for those purposes. That last suggestion would make us unique around the world. So far my vote is for cheese.
Around the world, people have made bunkers into a night club, a restaurant, and an underground farm.
Might I suggest this bunker would make a great reality show. Since it is only there to survive the first few months of a near nuclear strike, we could set it up with a pretend strike. Contestants would have to suit up before going outside, live on canned food and in general pretend it’s a matter of humanity’s survival. They would be judged by their peers for being the best bet for survival.