Jim Furlong: What is Holy Ground?

Somebody in some cubicle in a federal government department had the whacko idea of building a fence on Signal Hill and blocking the view of part of the St. John’s Harbour. 

Who knows what lies in the hearts of government’s minions at all levels? Perhaps it was meant to drive traffic to watch the Signal Hill Tattoo and not for free or maybe it was to drive people into the interpretation centre to buy a key chain. 

I knew the days of that silly fence were numbered. The fence wasn’t built, like most fences are, to keep something in or to keep something out. It was meant to keep you from viewing something. That was its purpose. That never works. 

Anytime something gets built in St. John’s there is a controversy before a pick goes in the ground. This fence controversy didn’t start early enough but I think the good guys won and federal bureaucrats unknown were put to flight. 

Hookers stroll

Now across town another controversy still rages over a proposed annex to the beautiful Anglican Cathedral. There is a body of thought that says the annex would be built on sacred ground because there was an old cemetery there. It isn’t the church and its ministers that are raising the issue. It is instead the heritage/history crowd who talk of holy ground. I would like to introduce into all of this a fact of interest if not relevance. That particular patch of grass which was a burial ground was also more recently part of the hookers stroll on the Duckworth Street-Church Hill-Long’s Hill walk. By the way, if I wanted to stop that annex I would point out to people that it looks like something more suited to an insurance company rather than God’s church. Forget the cemetery angle. 

There are always issues with building something in St. John’s. The Rooms was like that. There was the rubble of a fort under it and some people were up in arms. You may remember as well the Outer Ring Road construction. There was a protest group that was against that. They were concerned that squirrel and rabbit habitats would be impacted. As it turns out the animals were fine except crossing the road and at the Pippy Park Golf Course today there are wild foxes stealing golf balls. 

Anyway it doesn’t matter if an idea has merit or not. There were near riots a few years ago over an ordinary security fence in a part of the harbour. That wasn’t built to spoil your view. Name another harbour in Canada where you are free to walk unimpeded right up to cruise ships, military vessels or offshore supply ships. You can’t do it. 

A knife through butter

You know I think if the Blessed Redeemer himself was to show up and walk right across St. John’s harbour on the water there would be a protest and a crowd calling for an environmental impact study or something like it. The exception of course is some federal government department fencing off a part of Signal Hill for reasons mysterious.

That seems to have moved forward like a knife through butter. Now the fence has gone “the way of all flesh” and not a minute too soon. 

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