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Harbour Safety Security Fence

Status: Project is Complete

The overall objective of the safety/security fence was to achieve the right balance: a safe, secure and regulatory-compliant industrial area on one half of the harbour apron; with our community – taking the proper care in what is still a commercial marine environment – availing of pedestrian access and restaurants on the other half.

Q1: Will access to the apron be restricted?

A: The accurate answer to this is "on the eastern half of the apron areas, yes; but not on the western half."

  • Access will only be restricted from Pier 9 to Pier 11; this area comprises approximately 50% of the apron. Using Harbour Drive buildings as references, the safety/security fence will extend from just west of Atlantic Place to just east of the Fortis Building. Allowances will still be made for special events in this area, as the safety/security fence will be gated and, therefore, the area will be accessible as deemed appropriate. Further, there will be three seating/viewing areas constructed as part of the safety/security fence. This will not be unlike the situation at the airport: there, for sound safety/security reasons, the public can observe the plane traffic through a fence and/or from the viewing area within the terminal, but cannot walk out onto the tarmac;
  • Public access to the apron will remain from west of The Keg restaurant to the area just west of Atlantic Place; this area comprises approximately 50% of the apron;
  • Public access is also available at the Terry Fox Monument site and Harbourside Park.

Even after the safety/security fence is in place, the Port of St. John’s will remain the most openly accessible Port Authority in Canada: all other Canada Port Authorities maintain 100% restricted access to their berthing facilities.

Q2: Why does the safety/security fence have to be built?

A: There are two reasons

  • Safety – The SJPA is committed to providing a safe working environment; and seeks to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to health and safety. Piers 9, 10, and 11 are very active, working piers which see the full range of vessel supply and servicing; as well as hazardous works including welding, generator operations and similar mechanical activities. This industrial activity, and the vehicular traffic which it generates, is forecasted to increase, resulting in an even more dangerous and high-risk environment for the safety of both pedestrians and workers than currently exists. From an occupational health and safety viewpoint, as well as a risk management perspective, no similar commercial site in Canada would allow the intermingling of pedestrian traffic with industrial activity as now exists from Pier 9 to Pier 11. 
  • Security – The SJPA has been directed by Transport Canada to adhere to all required security measures made pursuant to the Marine Transportation Security Regulations (MTSR) and the ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) Code. Failure to do so means the de-certification of SJPA-managed property as being ISPS compliant. This, in turn, would mean that all ISPS vessels, such as foreign-flagged ships, offshore supply vessels, cruise ships, tankers, and others would not be able to berth at SJPA-managed facilities – resulting in significant economic and employment losses to the Port, City and Province.

Q3: If the Port has been ISPS compliant in the past, what is the issue now? 

A: The Port of St. John’s is a dynamic ever-changing harbour. In recent years, more and more vessel traffic has come to the Port and more again is expected in the coming years. Much of this traffic is comprised of ISPS compliant vessels which are allowed to berth only at ISPS compliant facilities.

Q4: What will the safety/security fence look like?

A: The SJPA has endeavoured to design a heritage-style structure that will include local stone similar to that used to construct the Court House and the Basilica. Other enhancements include increased lighting along the Harbour Drive sidewalk as well as three seating/viewing areas. The design has received unanimous approval from the City of St. John’s on two separate occasions.

Q5: Why not use a temporary or portable fence?

A: While this has been deemed satisfactory for the past number of years, Transport Canada maintains that the current chain-link fence is a security concern due to its temporary construction and temporary nature. A permanent fence will provide for a more secure perimeter, thus reducing the inherent vulnerabilities of a temporary or portable fence. Additionally, the SJPA is very conscious of the fact that chain-link fencing is less than ideal from an aesthetic perspective – especially given its location at such a prominent place in our City. Therefore, with the approval and support of the St. John’s City Council, it was decided that a heritage-style, gated structure would be much more appropriate and attractive.

Q6: Given that the SJPA is a commercialized, financially self-sufficient Federal agency, why has the City been asked to cost-share this project?

A: It is good public policy to seek cost-sharing on projects with which the City and Port have a significant commonality of interest. Two of our city’s most prized assets would not exist were it not for the co-operation of the City and the Port, i.e. the Terry Fox monument site and Harbourside Park. Other joint efforts have included the widening of the narrows project and annual cruise marketing initiatives.

Q7: Why can’t the Port re-locate the industrial activity on the apron to the Southside of the Harbour? 

A: The vast majority of the area on the Southside is not owned by the SJPA. While the SJPA does control Piers 19, 20, and 21 towards the eastern portion of the Southside, this area is appropriately reserved for the fishing industry. In addition, the wharf infrastructure in that area is not robust enough to handle heavy loads from the offshore and other industrial activity.

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