Will federal plan to meld bridge authorities exclude Saultites?Tuesday, November 05, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
After learning of proposed federal legislation (Bill C-4) that would, if passed, amalgamate International Bridge operations in Sault Ste. Marie with those of the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward and the Cornwall International Bridge, City Council officially gave its support Monday to a St. Mary's Bridge Company Board resolution regarding the matter.
The St. Marys Bridge Company owns the Canadian side of the International Bridge (and its Bridge Plaza property).
It consists of seven members, five of whom, a report by Sault Ste. Marie Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Joe Fratesi points out, are Sault residents or people who have a strong connection to the city, and are also members of the Federal Bridge Corporation Board.
Council accepted Fratesi's report on the proposed legislation as an information item, and will be forwarding copies of the St. Mary's Bridge Company Board resolution to Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes and the Minister of Transport.
The St. Mary's Bridge Company, at its October 25, 2013 meeting, passed a resolution expressing its hope that the new Federal Bridge Corporation Limited Board will include at least one Sault Ste. Marie resident.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie agrees and goes further, Fratesi writes in his report, urging that "at least some members of the Federal Bridge Corporation Board be from Sault Ste. Marie."
Hayes, speaking to SooToday.com recently, said the amalgamation of the three border crossings governance structure would be for the sake of efficiency, to enhance security, and keep people, goods and services flowing smoothly between Canada and the U.S.
When we asked if Bill C-4, if passed, would mean reduced powers of decision for the St. Mary's Bridge Company Board, Hayes said: "It’s not a question of taking orders from somewhere else, but I expect what you’ll see is representatives from all three areas sitting on a joint commision, and I believe it will be beneficial for trade.”
In addition, it is not felt that such a move by the feds would alter the fate of the long-awaited Bridge Plaza project in Sault Ste. Marie.
Speaking to Council Monday, Fratesi said: "No one has raised any concerns with Bridge Plaza improvements…but we want to bring Sault Ste. Marie's flavour to the table."
Fratesi's report states that the influence of Sault Ste. Marie members on the new Federal Bridge Corporation Board could be reduced as a result of Bill C-4.
The CAO writes: "There is a significant risk that a local perspective in decision making may be lost as a result of these proposed changes."