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Title - The View from Dundas
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Follow Me on TwitterPhillip Blancher is a writer, web geek and communications professional by trade. He has written for a number of publications in Eastern Ontario and Northern New York State and also was a weekly morning show contributor for two area radio stations. As a resident of South Dundas for the last seven years, this long-time political buff has taken on an appreciation of small-town/rural life while also being a father of four and a soccer coach. Blancher's columns on OurHometown.ca will cover a range of his interests from politics, parenthood, local history and on his favourite NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. If you have questions or wish to contact Phillip, you can email him at pblancher@ourhometown.ca
Closing Time?
Phillip Blancher
OurHometown.ca

Closing Time?
Is it time, once and for all, to close the Cornwall International Border Crossing? Since 2009, the border crossing has been operated out of "temporary" digs at the foot of the Three-Nations International Bridge. There has been little-to-no movement to find and impliment a permanent solution to the issue of location of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offices, so maybe it's time to just close it and move on.

South Dundas - April 4, 2013 - Is it time, once and for all, to close the Cornwall International Border Crossing? Since 2009, the border crossing has been operated out of "temporary" digs at the foot of the Three-Nations International Bridge. There has been little-to-no movement to find and impliment a permanent solution to the issue of location of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offices, so maybe it's time to just close it and move on.

For four years now, residents of the area affected have been told that "plans are in the works", and that a solution was coming soon. There have been announcements made about solutions, but as for actual results, nothing has changed. To permanently move the CBSA offices to the US side of the border, where the US Department of Homeland Security has their customs station, takes an act of Congress. That has not occurred yet. Meanwhile, the new bridge to Cornwall Island has no provisions for a border station, and the CBSA office cannot be located on Cornwall Island due to CBSA officers now being armed. No solution presented is really ideal, or will take too long to implement, or the solution is a bureaucratic nightmare. To quote Sherlock Holmes, "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

What would closing the Canadian Crossing mean?

First it means that there would be no northbound traffic across the south span of the Three Nations Bridge. The bridge could be converted to southbound only, thus providing improved access into the United States for transport traffic. This would alleviate other border crossing points such as Ogdensburg, Champlain or Wellesley Island and provides a marketing opportunity for more distribution centers and manufacturing to locate in the Cornwall-area. A quick and easy route to larger markets.

Second, it would hamper cross-border shopping in the region. Yes it would mean that shoppers from Massena could not come to Canada, but with a Canadian Dollar at near-par levels, and goods in Canada costing 20-40 per cent more, and the Harmonized Sales Tax at 13 per cent, how many US shoppers are there really coming to Cornwall and the area? The days of Canadian border towns being "retail tourism" centric are over. Removing the easy ability for Canadians to return from the US after stocking up on cheap groceries and consumer goods will force more area residents to "shop local". The convenience factor would be removed. Same with gambling. How many Canadians hop across the river to Akwesasne to gamble? That money could be kept here in Canada, supporting Canadian gambling establishments, which in part fund the hospitals and schools we use here.

Third, it would further curtail movement of illicit goods across the border in the area. By not enabling movement north from the US into Canada, there would be a further reduction of smuggling in the area, or at least, it would be further reduced from the immediate Cornwall area. Since the border crossing was moved to the foot of the North Span of the Three-Nations Bridge, smuggling has decreased, as have the traffic chases and other spin-off affects of this activity. Yes this activity might move elsewhere else along the border, but there are customs facilities already in other areas that can screen and catch these, Prescott has a new CBSA station, LaColle, Quebec and Hill Island, Ontario are getting new ones. They can deal with it. Any job losses from the Cornwall CBSA office permanently closing would be offset by the need for increased resources at the other stations so in the end, no one should lose employment.

Lastly, this closure would provide closure(pun intended) to a situation that has existed for many years. The CBSA border station on Cornwall Island has been a sore point for relations within the communities of Akwesasne and Cornwall for many decades. The arming of CBSA guards was but the last of many reasons for increased tensions on both sides of the bridge. The nearly four years of doubt cast on a permanent solution to the immediate border problem has not been healthy. Governments cannot plan future growth when no one knows what is going to be settled on. Leadership at all levels of government certainly have not championed this to a resolution, with responses ranging from weak to non-existent. Now residents have to wait to see if a polarized US Congress will allow for the least-worse solution to the problem be enacted on their soil.

Enough is enough, time to cut bait and move on. Close the Canadian Crossing, and start mending fences on all sides.


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