The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is joining forces with some around Cornwall's city council table who want a new toll plaza for the Seaway International Bridge placed on Cornwall Island.
"The best location for the toll booth plaza is at the former Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) port of entry on (Cornwall Island)," Grand Chief Mike Mitchell said.
Mohawks are arguing the former CBSA port of entry is already equipped with booths going in the northern direction and would require a minimal upgrade to make the booths functional for tolling purposes. The multiple booths would help ensure that the bottlenecks that are presently occurring in Cornwall will no longer be a problem, said Mitchell.
The Mohawk council is lining up alongside Cornwall Mayor Bob Kilger and members of city council opposed to the St. Lawrence International Bridge Corporation (SIBC) decision to put the toll booth for the newly-constructed north span of the bridge on the city's waterfront near the old canal.
"The SIBC's proposal to permanently locate the toll booth plaza on canal lands in Cornwall will cause great economic harm to businesses and recreational facilities located in Akwesasne along the Seaway International Bridge corridor and will hurt the economic relationship between the City of Cornwall and the Akwesasne community" said Mitchell.
The SIBC decision to locate on the canal lands is being made because that location will maximize revenue for the bridge corporation.
But Mitchell took exception to that argument too, suggesting putting the toll booth plaza on Cornwall Island will still generate revenue for the SIBC. And he said using an existing facility will also save the SIBC money in that they will not have to construct new facilities as would be required if they located on the Cornwall canal lands. More importantly, Mitchell suggested, it would also allow commerce and good will between Cornwall and Akwesasne to develop further.
"It appears that SIBC is planning to intentionally target travellers from Cornwall who want to attend events at the A'naworako:wa Arena in selecting the canal lands location for their toll booth," said Akwesasne district chief Brian David. "By doing so, they are creating a $6.50 tax for Cornwall residents who want to visit the arena for sporting, cultural and other events and that is wrong."