OPINION: It’s a start, but there is a lot to talk about

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: It’s a start, but there is a lot to talk about
From left, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement and Grand Chief Abram Benedict in front of one of Heart of the City's new plaques at OPG (Shawna O'Neill/Seaway News photo).

This past Wednesday, Cornwall City Council did something it hasn’t done in nearly 10 years, meet with our neighbours on the other side of the bridge.

On Wednesday night, Cornwall City Council and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) held a joint meeting. They took the time to introduce themselves to one another, go over the features of each municipality and have a joint dinner. I think this was a great start, but there’s a lot of substantive issues to work on.

The MCA is one of our closest neighbours, and I think that it is the municipality with which we have the most amount of common issues that we’re jointly facing.

While we share some services with the United Counties of SD&G, we share more geography with Akwesasne.

The development of the waterfront along the St. Lawrence River, on both sides, will affect both municipalities. This alone, is a major issue that Cornwall and Akwesasne must tackle together.

Cornwall and the MCA already own the Cornwall Harbour. When that property was purchased in 2016 it was agreed that the land must be operated as a harbour for, I believe, five years. We are fast approaching the five-year anniversary of the purchase of the harbour lands, but, to my knowledge, there are no plans to develop that land when that milestone passes. Cornwall and the MCA should be working closely now, as to what the future of these lands look like.

Personally, I think that the harbour lands could be developed into a boardwalk, similar to the one in Old Montreal. Features, and anchor attractions should be considered to draw the public down to the waterfront. Cornwall is already considering pop-up shops, this would be the perfect place for a whole pop-up market.

Beyond geographic and economic interests, there are also personal and individual connections between the people of Akwesasne and Cornwall.

Many students at schools here in Cornwall, live in Akwesasne or are MCA members.

Our border is divided by the CBSA check point and the toll booth. Our border check point is manned by CBSA officers from both Cornwall and Akwesasne and is the tenth busiest border crossing in Canada, but 70 per cent of the traffic are the same residents passing back and forth between our two municipalities during the daily course of their lives.

Decisions made in the City of Cornwall affect the people of Akwesasne, and decisions made by the MCA, affect people who live in Cornwall. I applaud both councils for

realizing the need to have closer ties, and acting on that realization. Here’s hoping it is not another 10 years before there is another such meeting.

I think the next step should be the formal establishment of a joint committee or agency that actively identifies and cooperates on joint interests of the two municipalities.

What do you think readers? In what ways can Cornwall better operate with its Southern neighbours. Email me a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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