Monday, February 25, 2013

Story on controversial harbour fence doesn't add up


Tenders have been called for the controversial security fence at St. John's harbour.

According to the VOCM news article, the St. John's Port Authority says "the fence is a requirement from Transport Canada for security reasons."

Only that's not the case.

As I reported in early January, the proposed permanent fence around much of St. John's harbour apron is not the only option — the port authority could reinstate port security offices.

At the time, I called on the St. John’s Port Authority to release the cost comparisons for both options.

“The public has a right to see the detailed analysis of the costs of both fencing and port security as well as any other options considered in the back rooms at the St. John’s Port Authority ... I look forward to increased public dialogue following this full disclosure.”

Only that full disclosure never happened. 

Late in 2012, I wrote Transport Canada under the federal Access to Information for all "written and recorded" correspondence between Transport Canada and the St. John's Port Authority regarding construction of a fence for public access and perimeter control on Piers 8, 9, 10, 11 of the St. John's Harbour.

The time frame of my request was between December, 2011 and September, 2012, and the request was made to get an idea of what exactly Transport Canada was asking the St. John's Port Authority to do.

My office has been told that there was no written correspondence.

None. 

So the City of St. John's has committed to pay half of the $850,000 cost of building a fence when it didn't have to, and at a time when it's not exactly flush with cash. 

And when council didn't know all the facts in terms of various options (fence or security personnel).

This story has never added up.

And the thought of having to stare through an iron fence to get a look at The Narrows is insulting. 

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