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Safety / Security Fence

The St. John’s Port Authority (SJPA) has achieved a concept of waterfront land usage balance for nearly a decade. The wharf area alongside Harbour Drive is comprised of 50% industry/safety and 50% public enjoyment.

Why the Balance?

  • Industry/safety is vitally important for our economy. And it must be undertaken safely and securely – pursuant to Federal Government legislation and regulation; as well as international industry standards.

    If the SJPA doesn’t adhere to these requirements, our port certification may be withdrawn: with significant damage resulting to the economy and employment.

    While the SJPA recognizes that the port is a popular resident and tourist destination, the risk of someone being injured due to industrial activity would be devastating and must be mitigated against.

    50% of the wharf area along Harbour Drive is designated for industrial activities.
  • Public enjoyment is also important. That’s why the SJPA has dedicated the remaining 50% of the Marginal Wharf area to allow for public access: a space which houses three major restaurants with a contiguous accessible area, as well as three separate seating areas along the entire wharf area. All of this, together with the Terry Fox Monument and Harbourside Park.

The Result?

  • A safe, secure, internationally certified port serving as a huge contributor to our Province’s economy; balanced with developed public enjoyment spaces where people can enjoy a walk, beverage or delicious meal along the waterfront at the outdoor decks and restaurants.


1. Why was the fence built in 2015?

For safety and security reasons.

The SJPA is committed to providing a work environment that is proactive in keeping safe the people who work here. Piers 9, 10, and 11 are active working piers that see a full range of industrial vessel supply and servicing; as well as hazardous works including welding, vessel maintenance, crane operations and other mechanical activities, just to name a few. No similar commercial site would allow the intermingling of pedestrian traffic with industrial activity.

Transport Canada administers the strict legislation and regulation for the SJPA to follow. The SJPA must legally adhere to all required security measures as outlined in the Marine Transportation Security Regulations (MTSR) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) certification. Failure to do so would mean that the Port would be deemed non-compliant, resulting in decertification; and therefore that all ISPS vessels such as offshore supply vessels, foreign flagged ships, cruise ships, tankers, and others, would no longer be able to dock at our facilities. This immense loss of vessel traffic would result in significant economic and employment declines in St John’s and throughout the province.

Following a regular assessment, Transport Canada has determined that the Port of St. John’s and its designated marine facilities are in full compliance with the regulations.

2. To What parts of the harbour does the public have access?

The public has access to approximately 50% of the Marginal Wharf on the north side of the harbour (along Harbour Drive) which houses three major restaurants with a contiguous accessible area; and three separate seating areas along the entire wharf area. Two other significant public space developments are the Terry Fox Monument site and Harbourside Park. Residents of St John’s and the visitors who come to our harbour each year are able to enjoy a walk, a beverage or a delicious meal along the waterfront with outdoor decks and restaurants.

3. Is the whole harbour fenced?

No. The entire harbour is not fenced.

For the safety and security of the people who work on the waterfront, a portion of the Marginal Wharf along Harbour Drive (roughly 50% of the area) is fenced in order to provide port users with a safe and secure berthing/access area for vessels. The secured area provides berthage for the offshore oil industry vessel and the cruise ship industry (amongst others) in a safe, secure and regulatory compliant area. This is particularly important for the offshore oil industry which contributes 30% of our provincial GDP and makes up nearly half of all vessel traffic in the Port of St. John’s.

4. Do other Canada Port Authorities have fences?

In many ports and industrial sites across Canada, in order to protect people, there are fenced areas depending on regulations and the type of activity taking place. There is no “one size fits all” approach given the diversity of Canadian ports: each has its own dynamic; its own trade trends and waterborne traffic considerations. Not to mention that each of the other 16 Canada Port Authorities are vastly different in geographic size.

The Port of St. John’s is often compared to Halifax, Nova Scotia. That vastly larger harbour also has a fenced area: behind Pier 21, around the docks in Point Pleasant Park and around other key industrial areas, in order to keep the area secure for cruise ships and industrial vessels/activity. Further, the developed, publicly accessible areas of the Halifax waterfront are not under the jurisdiction of the Halifax Port Authority/Federal Government but, rather, that of the Nova Scotia Provincial Government.

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