Proposed bridge toll location not city’s choice

be even healthier for our economies and our people.” Saaltink was at city council last Monday to present a report on the bridge project, including the bridge corporation’s plan to keep its tolls in Cornwall, just to the west of the new span. He said a recent survey found bridge us- ers “quite divided” on the issue toll location, with about one-third content to have the toll booth located in Cornwall. He added he is “quite confident” that if the city had “issues” with the proposed lo- cation of the new toll plaza that it could be resolved through talks with the bridge cor- poration. If there is still no resolution, the city can discuss with issue further with Micheline Dube, president and CEO of the Federal Bridge Corporation, he suggested. The bridge corporation also came under fire for collecting tolls from local travelers, especially those crossing to attend func- tions on Cornwall Island as well as the price of the tolls compared to other crossings. “Why is it always the highest (cost) cross- ing point when we have so much travel?” questioned Councillor Gerry Samson, who said some people are evening crossing by boat to avoid the toll charge. But Saaltink argued the bridge corpora-


CORNWALL | The city may have to meet with the local bridge corporation’s “po- litical masters” if the government agency ignores the city’s opposition to the pro- posed location of a new bridge toll, says the city’s mayor. Bob Kilger issued the threat at the end of a presentation to city council last about plans for the $75-million low level bridge now under construction, and the thorny is- sue of where the bridge toll should be lo- cated. “I’ll leave it to my colleagues, in their col- lective wisdom, to decide if that is a path they wish to pursue after this evening,”Kilg- er said, after questioning Hendrik Saaltink, general manager of the Seaway Interna- tional Bridge Corporation. In a subsequent interview with The Jour- nal, Kilger said he was not frustrated with the bridge corporation. But he sees the toll as a stumbling block to strengthening the bond between Cornwall and Akwesasne. “I just see the toll as a barrier. It’s a trade barrier, it’s a cultural barrier. It doesn’t en- courage the kind of exchanges that would

Archives photo

Cars line up at the toll booth at the foot of the Seaway International Bridge in Corn- wall on Thursday morning. A proposal to keep the tolls in Cornwall when the new low-level bridge is completed has raised the ire of some city councillors.

tion has done a “diligent job” keeping the tolls affordable while generating enough revenue to operate the bridge crossings. “I don’t see any conflict with fairness there.” “You’re paying for something. We don’t always like to pay for something – it’s irritat- ing, but it’s all part of a system.” Past surveys have found “people don’t generally object to tolling”, but they don’t like waiting in line “to use the facility,” es- pecially commercial travelers, Saaltink said. “That has a bigger economic impact.”

“The bridge corporation is very sensitive to the needs of all crossing users. Every year, two to three years, we conduct surveys of our bridge users,” Saaltink said. “We are trying to walk a balance between the needs of all crossing users and our needs as a corporation with fiscal respon- sibility, because at the end of the day, we have had years where we have made very, very little money. In actual fact, we have had years where we lost money.”

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