The head of the Seaway International Bridge Corporation (SIBC) has reiterated the agency's desire to continue collecting tolls for motorists using a new crossing to Cornwall Island from the city.
A letter received by city hall from bridge corporation manager Hendrik Saaltink details the SIBC's position that motorists must continue to pay to cross the St. Lawrence River from Cornwall into Akwesasne, and vice versa.
It costs $3.25 for a one-way trip across the bridge. The cost increases for larger vehicles.
The city and Akwesasne have been strongly lobbying to get tolls eliminated in an effort to increase commerce between the two, and make it easier for motorists who want to travel within the Canadian border. Tolls would remain for crossing the international boundary.
Saaltink suggested the SIBC requires the tolls to offset bridge operating and maintenance costs, and his letter spells out how federal governments in both Canada and the U.S. have spent millions of dollars on upkeep and capital projects for crossing.
"Now that investments have been made to refurbish the crossing, there is a natural expectation that the SIBC will generate sufficient toll revenues to fund any future maintenance and capital works," Saaltink said. "This we are mandated to do."
The issue will be discussed at city council's next regular meeting on Monday. A meeting has also been set up for July 5 between representatives from Cornwall and Akwesasne to plot strategy.
Mayor Bob Kilger has already met with local MP Guy Lauzon on this subject, but so far there has been little indication the federal government is ready to endorse the elimination of tolls between Cornwall Island and the city.
Saaltink is being invited to a future council meeting to officially details the position of the SIBC.
At a council meeting Monday night CAO Paul Fitzpatrick suggested bridge corporation officials as well as representatives of the Canada Border Services Agency are expected to meet with council in late September.