Harbour front fence roundup

Bonnie Belec
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St. John’s Port Authority says forming partnerships makes sense

The CEO of the St. John’s Port Authority may have been feeling a little corralled Thursday as the song “Don’t Fence Me In” enveloped the room before he addressed the Rotary Club of St. John’s.

Sean Hanrahan, who has been in quoted in the media for several months defending the port’s decision to erect a fence along 50 per cent of Harbour Drive, had free rein during the luncheon to explain the reasons behind the initiative.

“This fence is being built for two equal reasons — safety and security,” he said. “With regard to safety, it has to be recognized that piers 9, 10 and 11 are very active working piers upon which much hazardous works are undertaken. … This is an industrial area and has been since it was built in the early 1960s.”

Hanrahan told the gathering that from an occupational health and safety viewpoint, there can’t be any intermingling of pedestrian traffic with the industrial activities on the piers.

“The port wants to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to safety. We can’t wait for an accident to happen before we establish preventative measures,” he said.


Security regulations

Equally important is security on the harbourfront, Hanrahan said. In order to maintain the port’s International Ship and Port Facility Certification, the port must be compliant with the Marine Transportation Security Regulations.

“Failure to do so would mean the decertification of our port property which would mean that no offshore supply vessels — which are the vast majority of the vessels using the area — no foreign-flagged vessels and no cruise ships would be allowed to berth at our facilities. This would mean significant economic and employment losses to our port and city,” he said.

Hanrahan told Rotarians the fence will be built to accomplish the port’s objectives of safety and security, but this could have been achieved by using a chain-link fence within the port’s own budget.

“But it would be ugly,” he said. “Not fitting for the downtown of the capital city. A heritage-style fence with wrought iron and stone would better suit the city’s objectives of a beautified downtown so the city was approached to cost-share the project,” he said.

Two organizations benefitting from one project, meeting each other’s objectives, and both groups paying for it, Hanrahan said, makes common sense and is good public policy.

That was part of the reason for the community uproar last year when people found out about the expenditure by the city — $425,000 towards the $1-million fence. Groups said taxpayers should have been consulted before the decision was made.

People were upset over the decision to restrict access to the north side of the harbour under orders from Transport Canada and let the port authority and the city know it through public protests. One demonstration even shut down a council meeting at city hall when people in the gallery wouldn’t be quiet as councillors attempted to debate issues surrounding the fence.

But in the end, Hanrahan said without co-operation from the City of St. John’s, there would be no widening of The Narrows, no development of a beautiful monument to Terry Fox and no development of the Harbourside Park.

Hanrahan said with a $6-million capital budget this year, the authority will undertake two other major initiatives.

A large part of the expenditure, he said, will go towards the redesign and rebuild of Pier 20, on the south side of the port which is used extensively by the fishing industry. He said the facility is about 50 years old and “was constructed of a hodge-podge of building materials and methodologies and has outlived its useful life.”

He said the fishing industry founded the St. John’s port and it will not be left unserviced by the authority.

“Very shortly we will commence construction of a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art wharf facility which will serve the fishing industry for decades to come,” Hanrahan said.

As well he said the port has leased land to The Keg restaurant for it to expand operations by developing two new restaurants immediately adjacent to The Keg in a separate building.

“We look forward to 2014 which will see quite an exciting atmosphere in this area of the port, given its soon-to-be three restaurants,” Hanrahan said.



Organizations: Port Authority, Rotary Club, Marine Transportation Security Regulations Transport Canada

Geographic location: Port Facility Certification

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Recent comments

  • Danny
    March 14, 2013 - 23:55

    I support the fence and the Port Auth board are doing a fine job.The fence will also protect random searches of drug laden vessels which provide many millions of dollars each yr to our local economy.

  • Alick Andrews
    March 13, 2013 - 11:21

    Are any members of the Port Authority elected? Is there any merit base to the appointment? To whom is the Port Authority accountable? What is their policy,if any, on transparency and openess to the public.? How is membership determined? How is the need for "safety" and "security" determined, and by whom? Who owns the Keg Restaurent? Why is it mentioned in this speech?

  • Blair
    March 08, 2013 - 22:30

    Steve, the Port Authority does not own the waterfront property behind Harvey's. Piers 12 to 16 belong to the name you mentioned....Harvey's. Also the Port Authority owns very little of the Southside Piers or the Piers in the vacinity of the dockyard. Some owners on the Southside are Irving, Esso, Coast Guard, CONA, DND. They also don't own the Boat Basin at Fort Amherst

  • Not Lena either, but
    March 08, 2013 - 14:34

    To Christopher Chafe, I heard the legitimate, local restaurant owners who were wondering why the Keg got preferential treatment. Nobody but a fool, or perhaps you, might assume that the majority of tourists eat seafood but that option would have been more desirable. By the way, I lived in Calgary and they're proud and supportive of their beef industry. Maybe we should learn a few lessons.

  • Huck
    March 08, 2013 - 12:52

    The fence is the price we have to pay for prosperity on the Avalon. No fence + no cruise ships + no supply ships = the loss of most of the revenue in St John's.

  • Lena
    March 08, 2013 - 09:20

    What a load of codswallop, misdirection and obfuscation -- and I can't wait to see what restaurants we'll see in those spaces next to the spot where the Keg peddles its Alberta beef instead of promoting local seafood. More pretentious franchise locations, no doubt, yet again missing the focus that both locals and visitors to the region want, and to the detriment of established local businesses.

    • To Lena
      March 08, 2013 - 10:15

      Your comment sounds like it is coming from a pretentious local resturant owner from the DT core. Also contrary to popular belief not every Newfoundlander eats seafood!

    • Not Lena but...
      March 08, 2013 - 11:38

      Not every citizen of this province eats seafood, but you miss the point. The waterfront is a major tourism asset. Putting franchise outlets at that location is like using your prime real estate for storage sheds. There's nothing pretentious about using prime space to showcase our culture instead of somewhere else's.

    • Not Lena either,but
      March 08, 2013 - 13:35

      To - To Lena, Why the jealousy for local restaurant owners. I'm not a fish eater either, but if tourism is so important, why are we promoting the Keg over local entrepreneurs?

    • Christopher Chafe
      March 08, 2013 - 14:12

      To Not Lena Either, But.......are you forgetting the pretentious attitude that the local resturant owners showed and voiced when they heard of the KEG coming to St. John's. Everyone here is assuming that THE MAJORITY of Tourists come here and only eat seafood. That's the same as assuming that 1.5 million tourists to Calgary last July ate only Alberta Beef!

    • steve
      March 08, 2013 - 14:31

      I thought this article was about the fence!

  • steve
    March 08, 2013 - 08:13

    I hate the fence. The part of the harbour apron from Atlantic Place to the bottom of Prescott is being fenced, and that is the most popular and nicest area to walk. They could fence the rest of the Harbour and leave that open, and people would be a lot happier. The Port Authority needs to do something with the area behind Harvey's, immediately east of the bottom of Prescott. It's atrocious, and a hazard to shipping.