Too ugly to survive: Signal Hill fence demolition complete

A controversial wooden fence was short-lived on Signal Hill in St. John’s as government workers tore it down in the pouring rain on Thursday morning.

While the fence was hard to look through, the issue was plain to see — it was ugly, critics said, and blocked a beautiful view of Canada’s most easterly city.

The three-metre-high fence was built on Tuesday morning, sparking outrage first from comedian Rick Mercer, and later from local MP Nick Whalen.

“It’s stunning in its ugliness,” Mercer told CBC News on the day it was built.

Just 48 hours later, it was torn down by a small crew of Parks Canada workers, starting just before 6 a.m. NT.

Parks Canada said the fence would help deal with traffic safety issues on Signal Hill, a favourite walking site with city residents and a popular draw for tourists. The hill provides stunning views of St. John’s, its harbour and the Atlantic Ocean.

A superintendent with the organization said drivers would sometimes slow down, or even come to a stop, to check out the view or catch a glimpse of the Signal Hill tattoo performing military reenactments in the nearby amphitheatre.

The construction happened quickly, without public consultation, and the reaction to it was swift and fierce, with widespread public condemnation of the fence.

Whalen, MP for St. John’s East, slammed the move and took the issue to the office of federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who is responsible for Canada’s national parks.

Hours later, McKenna’s office said the fence would come down, citing “feedback” to Parks Canada.

She said the wood will be reused for the new, temporary barrier.

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