It’s finally Friday, and for a lot of Canadians it has been a hard, long, hot week at work this week. For none more so, perhaps, than employees of Parks Canada, who have probably had a slightly more awkward and embarrassing week than most. In just two days, Parks Canada managed to erect a massive fence at Signal Hill, upset local people, subsequently tear down the fence, and spend at least $65,000 in the process.
The controversial wooden fence was erected earlier this week, on Signal Hill in St. Johns, Newfoundland. According to Parks Canada, the purpose of the three-metre-high fence was to deal with traffic and safety issues that tend to arise on Signal Hill, as drivers often slow down or even stop on the hill, in order to check out the beautiful view of St. Johns, the city harbour and the Atlantic Ocean.
In an attempt to prevent drivers from acting dangerously, halfway up the hill, Parks Canada put up the fence, which essentially completely blocks the delightful view below. While it could have been successful in fulfilling its original goal, the fence also blocked the scenery from local residents, as well as pedestrians, who often frequent the hill to enjoy those same glorious views.
The construction of the fence was quick, and without any sort of public consultation. Naturally, the response from the local community was fierce, and Parks Canada was widely criticised for failing to communicate with nearby residents on the issue.
Not only did local people feel like the fence blocked off their treasured views of the city, but the community also believed the fence was downright ugly. The fence, which was only built on Tuesday, was criticised almost immediately, sparking outrage from residents, politicians, and comedian Rick Mercer, who is a Newfoundlander.
However, the upset was short-lived, as by Thursday afternoon, the fence was gone. Government workers spent the morning removing the structure that they had installed only two days earlier.
If this was not discouraging enough for the workers at Parks Canada, it was also revealed that the controversial fence cost approximately $65,000 in planning, layout, design, labour and construction. Worse still, that figure doesn’t include the cost of tearing it down. Ouch!
According to the federal Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, the fence was taken down because of the ‘feedback’ given to Parks Canada. She added that the wood from the fence, which stood 53 metres long and 1.8 metres tall, would be reused for a new, temporary barrier and used at other Parks Canada sites.