MOHAWK COUNCIL OF AKWESASNE PROPOSES ISLAND LOCATION FOR TOLL BOOTH PLAZA
AKWESASNE MOHAWK TERRITORY – The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne responded today to the Seaway International Bridge Corporation (SIBC) Limited’s plans to permanently locate its toll booth plaza in the City of Cornwall at the base of the new 3 Nations Bridge.
“The best location for the toll booth plaza is at the former Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Port of Entry on Kawehnoke,” stated Grand Chief Mike K. Mitchell of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
The former CBSA Port of Entry is already equipped with multiple booths going in the north 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. Multiple toll booths could be constructed on the west side of the facility to accommodate traffic flowing towards the United States from Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island).
“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,” stated Grand Chief Mitchell.
The SIBC decision to locate on the canal lands is purportedly being made because that location will maximize revenue for the corporation. But putting the toll booth plaza on Kawahnoke at the former CBSA Port of Entry will still generate revenue for the SIBC. Using an existing facility will also save 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, it would also allow commerce and good will between Cornwall and Kawehno:ke to develop further.
The relocation of the CBSA Port of Entry to Cornwall and the toll booth plaza to the base of the 3 Nations Bridge in Cornwall has reduced the toll booth to one lane in each direction and created long delays for travelers using the Seaway International Bridge corridor. Relocating the toll booth plaza to the former CBSA Port will help alleviate this congestion and improve the business relationship between the City of Cornwall and Kawehno:ke.
“It appears that SIBC is planning to intentionally target travelers from Cornwall who want to attend events at the A’nowarako:wa Arena in selecting the Canal lands location for their toll booth,” stated Kawehno:ke 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.”
Chief David added, “I would just like to remind the Seaway International Bridge Corporation that the community of Akwesasne has a continuing claim interest in all of the lands north of Cornwall Island, alongside the St. Lawrence River. The SIBC had the opportunity to negotiate with us. Now this will be an additional issue to be negotiated as part of our claim’s agenda.” He noted, “We weren’t even given the courtesy of being consulted on the decision, even though there is a statutory obligation to do so called the ‘Duty to Consult.’ Unfortunately, the time to consult has come and gone,” he noted.
Apparently, the SIBC has identified that Cornwall residents like to go to Cornwall Island to attend events there without having to go into the United States. Rather than promote this business and entertainment exchange, they would like to tax it and discourage it by selecting the Canal land location.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne believes that the SIBC needs to consider the collective interests of all the users of the Seaway International Bridge corridor and not just a self-serving interest. The SIBC decision ignores that the new 3 Nations Bridge will be a low-level bridge, 1/3 as long as the existing bridge. Operation and maintenance costs will be significantly lower once the new bridge is completed. While there will be less revenue from locating at the former CBSA Port location, it will be more than offset with the lower operational and maintenance costs of the new bridge.
“Our goal is to continue building a healthy relationship with Mayor Kilger and the Cornwall City Council,” stated Grand Chief Mitchell. “We also hope to continue working with the Cornwall City Chamber of Commerce to promote business development in Cornwall and Akwesasne,” he added. “The SIBC decision runs counter to the goodwill we are trying to achieve and a more equitable and fair decision needs to be found,” Grand Chief Mitchell concluded.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne will continue to propose the more reasonable location for the toll booth plaza in discussions with Canadian and American bridge authorities.