Sunday, December 16, 2012

HARBOUR FRONT FENCE PROPOSAL FLAWED BUT NOT UNNECESSARY


Surely the St. John’s Port Authority and the City of St. John’s can hammer out a mutually beneficial arrangement that satisfies international security standards without restrict public access to some of the St. John's waterfront

I for one would like to know what other options are available.  Are there more realistic alternatives?  There appears to be a zero sum debate going on which has resulted in an entrenched polarization.

Surely, if the St. John's harbor is to remain a working harbor, something has to give. Great swaths of the waterfront are already off-limits. In fact, more of the harbor is inaccessible to the public than is accessible.!

The disputed section is very accessible, very much a tourist draw. It sits just below and parallel to the downtown business district.  For the past eight years, a flimsy, ugly temporary fence has been put in place around part of it for security reasons.

It is where the lucrative cruise boats dock.  

The Port Authority is adamant that they need to erect a permanent fence to meet International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) certification.  The loss of the IPS could mean the loss of millions of dollars in revenue.

After sinking millions of dollars into a successful cruise ship industry, the public would be foolish to risk loosing its investment. However, when emotions run high, logic and compromise often get overlooked.

I would take the proposed fence over the temporary fence. It is tasteful, fits into the viewscape much better than those existing tubular guardrails and is secure enough to protect the IPS certification.

The authority does not need all of the space it is requesting. It can also be much more accommodating to the public when international ships are not docked. there. Surely the harbor authority  can adopt protocols that prohibit public access for periods prior to the arrival of ships destined for the United States.

The protesting public has to realize that we have to give up some accessibility. Far much more of the harbor is off-limits than they seem to grasp.  The protesters remind me of city folks who move out in to the country demanding that smelly farms be closed.  Livestock smells, the fertilization of fields smell. 

On the other hand, it is fair to question the harbour authorities motives in extending the secure area. Much of the waterfront is already fenced off and unavailable for development. Were they hoping to acquire a larger swath of the harbor for commercial purposes by extending the "security fence" further than absolutely necessary? 

Than there is the question of how the council could unanimously support the project in the first place. How do you throw a half a million dollars into a project and know the scope of it!

Harbours need to be secure. The shipping lines and other ports need to be re-assured that St. John’s is not a weak point for terrorists or drug smugglers. If not, they will just drop St. John’s of the schedule.

This controversy need not exist. A responsible solution to this impasse is just a compromise away.






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