A proposal to close the Ala Wai Canal from the Ala Moana Boulevard Bridge to the Kalakaua Avenue Bridge during the IUCN World Conservation Congress, Sept. 1-10, 2016, will be considered at a meeting of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) on June 9, 2016.
Numerous law enforcement agencies, led by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have requested the closure as an imperative safety measure to ensure the safety of the public and an expected 8,000-10,000 attendees of the conference.
DOCARE Enforcement Chief Thomas Friel explained, “This event will generate worldwide media attention and numerous Heads of State, Ministerial and Cabinet Level officials and other dignitaries are expected to attend.”
According to the submittal, the closure is necessary for the following reasons:
- To maintain an area that provides for standoff distance where any safety and security threat in the vicinity of the canal near the Hawaii Convention Center can be detected and dealt with away from the Convention Center.
- To maintain surveillance and control of the Ala Moana and Kalakaua Avenue bridges, the bridges closest to the Hawaii Convention Center. The bridges provide crucial transportation routes that the public and attendees will use to access the convention center and area hotels.
DOCARE, working with State Harbor Police, will be responsible for the physical closure of the canal and will use vessels and floating booms to accomplish the task. DOCARE Officers will monitor the area during the proposed closure.
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “While we appreciate this will be a temporary inconvenience for canal users like canoe clubs, we hope everyone understands it is important to do everything possible to make sure, when the world’s conservation leaders are focusing on Hawaii, they do so under the umbrella of the utmost safety and security.”
BLNR meetings are typically on Friday’s, but the June 9th meeting is on a Thursday, since June 10th is King Kamehameha Day. Public testimony will be heard during the board’s consideration of the Ala Wai closure proposal.