Fence blocking Signal Hill's famous vista dismantled after outcry

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A widely scorned fence blocking one of Canada's most spectacular vistas — the view of St. John's, N.L., from the Signal Hill historic site — was almost entirely dismantled Thursday following a public outcry.

A Parks Canada spokesperson said the last two wooden panels would come down on Friday.

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Visitors had registered their displeasure when the fence was first noticed earlier this week, and the outrage spread after comedian Rick Mercer shared his shock on Twitter on Tuesday.

"(Parks Canada) have built a fence designed to block the view. Welcome to NL nothing to see here," Mercer's tweet read.

Mercer's surprise and disappointment were echoed by others including St. John's Liberal MP Nick Whelan, who posted on Twitter that he was "not happy" with the fence or the lack of consultation.

Some users designed creative renderings of graffiti on the wall, while others suggested residents should disassemble the fence themselves.

Parks Canada said the fence, built about halfway up the hill, was meant to make historical re-enactments and other performances safer but acknowledged Wednesday that it missed the mark.

"In response to the feedback we have received, Parks Canada will aim to achieve those objectives in a way that does not block the incredible view from Signal Hill," the statement read.

"Parks Canada places belong to all Canadians and we appreciate the community's engagement on this issue and their passion for Signal Hill," it concluded.

A temporary structure will go up during performances to achieve safety goals, it said.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, whose department is responsible for Parks Canada, said officials heard concerns "loud and clear" and promised it would be completely gone by the end of the week.

"We will make sure that any measures we take to improve safety at Signal Hill and provide a better visitor experience during performances also preserve the spectacular view and are consistent with the character of the site," McKenna said.

St. John's residents and lovers of the historic site celebrated videos showing the panels coming down to reveal the view that had been blocked for just a few days.

Parks Canada was not able to provide the costs of building and dismantling the fence by Thursday evening.

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