National Post (Latest Edition)
Citizen care Pods showcase good behaviour efforts of trades
COVID screening has taken on a new phase for students and faculty at the College of Carpenters in Woodbridge. Anyone arriving at the building complex, which houses multiple businesses, makes a short stop now at the newly deployed Citizen Care Pod to go through the required prescreening.
A collaboration of WZMH Architects, PCL Construction, Insight Enterprises and Microsoft, the Citizen Care Pod is a home- grown, smart screening and testing customizable pod that integrates intelligent technology within a modular design. With the escalating demand for COVID testing, these repurposed high-tech shipping containers are a safe, clean and efficient turnkey mobile option that can be rapidly deployed in high- traffic environments and underserved communities.
The launch location is fitting, given that the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, which shares the space with the college, has been a long-standing partner in promoting the initiative from the earliest conceptual stages, says Mike Yorke, president,. “Our goal has always been to model our actions on good union behaviour and citizenship. That means recognizing and supporting a good idea when we see it, so others can emulate it if it succeeds. The Citizen Care Pod is an innovative approach to ensuring public safety that can be applied across multiple sectors, from hospitals and governments, to schools and construction sites.”
Many don’t realize that carpenters have a rich history supporting public health leadership, he adds. “With this project, we saw an opportunity to collaborate on a concept that showed great potential for addressing a major health concern for all of us.”
The concept goes beyond construction sites and schools to long- term care facilities, airports, train stations and more, says Zenon Radewych, principal with WZMH Architects in Toronto, designers of the Citizen Care Pod. “They can be built and deployed in six weeks or less and are a great tool to reinforce that we need to be careful out there and reduce potential contamination for people entering buildings.”
Carpentry is a trade that is consistently at the vanguard of innovation, he adds. “Carpenters are showing what should be done to keep students and workers safe. Not only do they provide their skills in building these pods in the way of flooring, installation andmillwork, they are taking the initiative to make a difference.”
Yorke believes the concept will also deliver significant economic benefits. “It could expedite planning and development throughout the GTA, as it can be quickly deployed to ensure COVID-FREE environments for workers on job sites. And it’s a made in Ontario solution being produced in Toronto that could drive manufacturing capacity and new jobs.”
Carpenters’ union involvement in social causes comes as no surprise to Cristina Selva, executive director at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades. “Since I joined the college 20 years ago, one thing that has impressed me was the level of community involvement and commitment the union has demonstrated.”
She notes that union members have been catalysts in multiple innovation partnerships over the years – from pre- apprenticeship initiatives with educational institutions, to labour training and skills development. “What they do benefits the trade, obviously. Of course, they want to recruit good people. But there is also a broader intent to help young people get a foothold in the trades, because that will benefit society as a whole.”
The biggest hurdle for trades is dispelling the myths and stereotypes, Selva says. To that end the carpentry industry has worked with schools at all levels to initiate conversations around opportunities and increase recruitment.
“Despite whatmanymight think, there are enormous career opportunities in the field, which continues to grow,” Selva says. “I would argue that carpentry is the broadest of the construction trades, because they are involved in projects from pre- planning, to construction, to handing over the keys to the proprietor. Since carpenters are in the picture from beginning to end, their knowledge base is incredibly deep, which is why they are typically the best supervisors and superintendents. In fact, they are recruited for supervisory roles above any other trades.”
The Citizen Care Pod project is a visible reminder of how the union is supporting community health and safety, Selva says. “They’re not waiting; they are realizing that it’s the right thing to do to keep students and workers safe.”
Supporting this project was the perfect embodiment of good union citizenship, Yorke stresses, who is always at-the-ready to participate in tours of the pod for regional hospitals and other interested groups. “When we can be part of a solution that promotes health and safety within our communities, that’s a step in the right direction for everyone.”