When comedian Rick Mercer touches down in St. John’s he usually heads straight to Signal Hill for a “gawk.” “It was a bit of a foggy day so I knew I wouldn’t see anything from the top,” he said.
Instead of going straight up the hill to Cabot Tower, Mercer decided to drop by the Interpretation Centre and look out at his hometown from Signal Hill’s midway point. But, he said he didn’t get much of a view … and this time, it wasn’t because of the fog. “I pulled in, and there’s this giant big fence that’s being built,” he said. “I can only assume the fence is intentionally designed to block the view.” Aside from the wooden fence completely obstructing the view and being “stunning in its ugliness,” Mercer said he wonders how the fence will affect people with limited mobility.
“St. John’s is a notoriously difficult place for anyone with mobility issues. Now, if you wanted to have a look, you got to walk up the path. There’s a whole segment of society that aren’t able to do that because they have a lack of mobility,” he said. “I wonder if that was even considered.”
Bill Brake, field unit superintendent Newfoundland east for Parks Canada, the fence was built to improve the experience for people coming to see performances on and near the visitor centre grounds — such as the Signal Hill Tattoo period re-enactment and plays such as the ones performed by Shakespeare by the Sea — and other special events on the site
The fence is also intended to prevent near-misses and close-call accidents as traffic slows down or stops completely around the visitor centre as drivers try to catch a glimpse of the city during a “short window” before heading to the top of the hill, he said.
OOPS I spoke to soon
Parks Canada says a brand new fence built on scenic Signal Hill will soon be removed after it was criticized for blocking views of St. John’s, N.L.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who oversees the agency, said she’s heard “loud and clear” that the design and placement of the fence at the national historic site “missed the mark.”