Waterfront Blues

June 25, 2013

As the beginning of cruise ship season has passed and we’re waiting until August until the next ship arrives, it’s a great time to talk about the waterfront. 

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We certainly have an adequate waterfront currently in operation down at the Corner Brook port. This setup has helped our town play host to many cruise ships over the years… and why not? We’re a hub for beautiful scenery up and down the west coast and the trip in through the gorgeous Bay of Islands must be extraordinarily picturesque. The trip out at sunset? Even more so on a beautiful day.

What greets cruising tourists is also decent, and has gotten many compliments. I myself received a few some years past when I was odd-jobbing for a summer, and ended up with a pleasant gig making luggage tags for our visitors, as well as providing any answers to questions they had about getting around the area. Another fun experience was monologuing to bus groups at Cook’s Lookout, wearing a slightly anachronistic costume of furs while pretending to be the famous captain. It was the middle of June and the wind was freezing, but our guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and were always impressed with the view. Naturally, since it’s a helluva view.

We continue to bring in the ships and as far as I know, the people coming in are satisfied with their experience on the West Coast (Best Coast) of this amazing island… so why change things up?

It seems like a situation of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but I feel like I’m not the only one who thinks that our Port situation could be greatly improved, and thus provide a more aesthetically pleasing visit?

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Hear me out, if you will…

These folks come off their fancy ship and walk past a gigantic shipping building before getting to our information tents, where they are treated to our friendly Newfoundland hospitality. They then hop on a bus for whatever destination they have chosen, or they maraud around town on foot… past shipping containers, a couple of overpasses, and a great view of a defunct Chinese restaurant setup, before they make it into the city.

Meanwhile we have the beautiful R.A Pollett building… almost completely out of sight, further down the waterfront past gated shipping and car yards, and an old abandoned garage. There is no connection to this building aside from walking on the side of the road.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a boardwalk that connected the two? Space for people to setup vending stands in a social hub no more than two or three minutes away? While writing this I think of cities like Halifax, with a wonderfully developed waterfront where culture is apparent right off the boat whether you’re on a sailboat or a cruise ship or whatever. This area is also booming throughout the summer without visitors, playing host to plenty of regular city activity. There’s a playground, a small theatre space for musical acts… a couple of years ago I remember seeing the Boys From County Hell play from a portable stage on the waterfront next to the R.A. Pollett and it was incredible! Music playing with the view down the bay was so special.

Even St John’s has an accessible waterfront in some ways, that plays host to some public areas and restaurants that are literally a stone’s throw from the water, and they don’t even have the sunsets that we do! While much of it is inaccessible to public, I remember enjoying plenty of access anyways…

But this is just me thinking aloud, and I could be crazy. I know that such a venture could be incredibly costly, however I also believe that such an investment would provide a very positive return to the city and its people.

Thoughts? Feel free to comment below! How would YOU like to see the City’s waterfront improve?

  • Glen

    As a former Haligonian and lover of public space I feel compelled to comment. When I first moved here I was shocked that the waterfront had so little public access. The bay of islands is really more beautiful than the Halifax harbor so I would have thought there were some benches and an Ice cream stand or something.

    You are right that it could potentially cost a fortune. I also suspect that a lot of the land is privately owned so there could be some complications there. Maybe we could commission a feasibility study to be done which would answer some of these questions and eliminate a great deal of speculation.

    • RDB

      Or perhaps a Banana stand? There’s always money in a Banana stand…

      Though in all seriousness, I completely agree. Some sort of assessment to come up with a plan, and the cost of that plan, would be great. Just to see the possibilities.

      However, who pays for that? CBPort or City Of CB?

      • Glen

        Good point. I don’t know. I would say partnership between all who benefit. City, Port, board of trade, NL tourism etc. I don’t even know how much commissioning a study costs. I suspect that many organizations/Government departments may be interested in pitching in to see something done.

        We have to be careful when comparing things to larger cities. The study may conclude that there will never be enough people to justify the investment. I think that it is worth looking into though.

  • Linda

    I have been saying this for ever. I remember how good the festivities were during John Cabot days a few years back. A nice restaurant overlooking the bay would be so nice. I agree it should be done like Halifax waterfront development on a smaller scale.