The City of Sault Ste. Marie is still awaiting a response from federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt regarding recent developments concerning governance of the International Bridge.
City Council, at its regular meeting Monday, was informed that Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Joe Fratesi has sent a letter to Raitt, dated February 26, 2014, seeking assurances from the Minister that at least one member of the new Federal Bridge Corporation Board of Directors would be from Sault Ste. Marie.
Last fall, the federal government announced that under proposed legislation, operations and governance of the International Bridge connecting the twin Saults, along with border crossings at Sarnia, Cornwall and Thousand Islands would be overseen by a new Federal Bridge Corporation Board of Directors.
To ensure that Sault Ste. Marie’s voice would be heard on the new Board, the St. Marys Bridge Company (which owns the Canadian side of the International Bridge and its Bridge Plaza property) passed a resolution at its October 25, 2013 meeting expressing its hope that the new Federal Bridge Corporation Limited Board will include at least one Sault Ste. Marie resident.
At its November 5, 2013 meeting, City Council passed a resolution of its own in support of the St. Marys Bridge Company’s position and forwarded that resolution to Raitt November 12.
In a report to Council in November, Fratesi stated that the influence of Sault Ste. Marie members on the new Federal Bridge Corporation Board could be reduced as a result of the federal government’s proposed changes.
Fratesi’s February letter to Raitt states: “We have not yet heard a response to City Council’s resolution and are concerned that it may not have reached your desk as of this date.”
“We do understand that Board appointments are currently being considered and the purpose of this note is to reiterate the importance of a Sault Ste. Marie representative in the future management and operation of this very important piece of infrastructure for our community.”
Fratesi’s February 26 letter has asked Raitt for a favourable reply to the City’s November resolution.
Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes told SooToday.com last fall that the amalgamation of the border crossings governance structure would not diminish the Sault’s influence in border crossing matters, and that the move would result in increased efficiency, enhance security and ensure a smooth flow of people, goods and services across the Canada-U.S. border.