CORNWALL, Ontario – While the look and feel of a new port entry in Cornwall would suggest the facility is permanent, border protection officials told city council Monday night the plan is still to eventually create a checkpoint in the United States.
Work has begun on a new interim port of entry along Water Street in Cornwall that will act as a checkpoint for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
But the long-term goal, which will take years to achieve, is to make a move into the United States and ease traffic congestion in the city, and on Cornwall Island.
“The government of Canada is still looking to the long-term goal of establishing a pre-clearance facility (adjacent to the existing U.S. border checkpoint),” said Steve MacNaughton, the CBSA’s Ottawa district director. “The key here for us is to have a functional port of entry.”
But for now the focus is on the interim facility being built along Water Street in a former snow dump.
CBSA officials updated councillors on the scope of the project, and where things currently sit.
The new port entry won’t open until the CBSA has completed its work – which means the new low-level bridge will remain unused until that time as well.
It’s anticipated that the interim port of entry and new low-level bridge will open in mid-December.
City councillors voiced concern over how the new port of entry will impact Cornwall’s waterfront – especially since the building could one day be vacated as CBSA moves to the U.S.
“We have plans for our waterfront, and we want to make sure your installation doesn’t interefere with those plans for one of our most important assets,” said Coun. Bernadette Clement.
MacNaughton and other CBSA officials stressed they will endeavour to leave as small a footprint as possible, despite the mammoth project that is taking place.
While the main building at the Water Street site won’t be finished until next summer, a portable modular unit will be moved down to the waterfront for use in the interim.
That move will take place a few days before the new low-level bridge opens.
Drawings for the new port of entry building haven’t even been completed yet. The CBSA presentation suggests that will be done next month.
In the meantime, about 60 per cent of the site preparation on the new CBSA grounds has been completed. The site used to be a municipal snow dump. Construction on the canopy for the new port entry has just begun, and primary inspection booths are three-quarters complete.
CBSA will take the looming winter to decommission its temporary facility on Brookdale Avenue, and is working with the city to reinstate existing roadways.