Time For Canada To Open More Inspection Booths At Niagara Border Bridges
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted July 27th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed “delight” in announcing this July 27th that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – less formally known to the world as Prince William and Kate – are planning a Royal Tour of Canada his coming fall, and that seems fine.
Hopefully, the Royals are not planning to enter the country by way of the Peace Bridge or one of the other Canada-U.S. border crossings because they may have a very long wait on their hands.
Of course, our Royal guests won’t be entering Canada from the Peace Bridge. Saying that they might was just my way of leading in to the real issue I want to discuss here – the annoyingly long waits at these crossings into Canada.
These long lineups – due in large part to cuts to federal budgets and a lack of border inspectors on the Canadian side going back to the Harper government’s reign of error – may very well be discouraging visitors from coming to our region and spending money here, according to a recent story in The Buffalo News.
And to that I ask; ‘How penny wise and pound stupid can our Canadian federal leaders possibly be?’
Here we have this low Canadian dollar, which retailers and others here hope will have more Americans wanting to come in and buy things – and we are going out of our way make their border crossing unbearable.
And nothing like a story right up at the top of the front page of The Buffalo News this July 25th, featuring the headline; “Too Few Open Inspection Booths Causing Long Waits At Border Bridges,” to convince any would-be visitor to Niagara, Ontario and other regions of the province not to bother trying to cross at all.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in wait times and in long backups crossing into Canada,” Sam Hoyt, a former New York State assemblyman from Buffalo and chairman of the Canada/U.S. Peace Bridge Authority was quoted saying in The Buffalo News story.
“A lot of people have said we need a new bridge,” Hoyt went on to say in the News interview. “No, we need to fully staff the booths so the traffic moves quickly.”
“I’m sure Canadian officials would say they’re frustrated as well,” said Hoyt. “If U.S. residents feel like it is too much of a hassle to cross the border, they’re not going to go. That means they’re not going to Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Shaw Festival, or spending money at restaurants and stores.”
“If you’re an American traveling and coming into Canada, and you have to wait an hour at the bridge, what does that do to your experience?” Lew Holloway, general manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, was quoted saying in the same story. “Especially when you see half of the booths aren’t open.”
As one who frequently crosses the border bridges at Niagara to visit relatives, I would concur completely with the traffic mess outlined in this story.
In recent years, especially on summer weekends and longer weekends at other times of the year, it is no longer uncommon to be crossing back to Canada on the Peace Bridge and see less than half the inspection booths ahead of you open.
Then you get into one of the long lines of waiting cars and look around and see license plates from Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey and other U.S. states and the people inside the vehicles are looking less and less like a trip to Canada was a good idea.
I’ve had plenty of people I know in the States tell me they’ve been through enough of this and are now avoiding the border like a bad trip to the dentist and are advising all their friends and neighbours to do the same.
Then you have a story more or less saying the same on the front page of a major Western New York newspaper. Isn’t that great for cross-border commerce?
Now I’ll admit I have no idea how much it would cost our Canadian government to staff the border crossings properly. But it must be a hell of a lot less than the billions of dollars the former Harper government and now the Trudeau government is now thinking of spending on a new fleet of fighter jets.
I’d rather spend the money on more inspection and intelligence resource on and around our borders?
Investing the resources needed to keep our border crossings safe, while at the same time keeping them from being too much of an obstacle for people and goods passing through should be a priority for any Canadian government that takes the country’s welfare seriously.
It wasn’t for the Harper government. We have yet to see if it matters to the government of Justin Trudeau.
Read the entire July 25th story in The Buffalo News by clicking on – http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/lines-at-peace-niagara-bridges-getting-longer-because-of-staff-shortage-20160723 .
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