CBSA negotiating with U.S. for new port of entry

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Seaway International Bridge

Canada Border Services Agency has a long-term plan to set up a permanent port of entry that will serve Cornwall in the United States – the problem is, no one knows when that will take place.

Representatives of the border agency were before city council Monday night, where they explained that negotiations with their counterparts in the U.S. about creating a permanent home are ongoing.

But when pressed by some councillors for a timeline to complete the negotiations under the so-called “Beyond the Borders” plan, CBSA officials could offer nothing concrete.

“It’s hard to put a year on it,” said Arianne Reza, a regional national director with CBSA. “Negotiations are ongoing.”

Reza pointed out that it has been more than three years since the CBSA created an interim home at the base of the Seaway International Bridge in Cornwall at the traffic circle.

CBSA plans to build yet another interim home to coincide with the opening of the new low-level bridge in Cornwall later this year.

Reza said the new interim building will have at least one additional lane, perhaps two, and will also have more access for commercial vehicles and increased privacy for travellers answering questions within the CBSA facility.

“We’ll have more lanes to process the traffic and reduce border wait times,” she said. “This will improve city traffic patterns.”

The plan is for the CBSA to decommission its existing interim facility on Brookdale Avenue and return it to the way it looked in 2009 before a dispute with natives on Cornwall Island forced the border agency to close its port of entry there.

Natives were angry that border officers would begin equipping themselves with firearms.

The Cornwall port of entry sees nearly two million conveyances a year, and as much as 70 per cent of that traffic comes from Akwesasne.

Organizations: Canada Border Services Agency

Geographic location: Cornwall Island, United States, Brookdale Avenue

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