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International Bridge Walk cancelled for third straight year

Current border guidelines forced organizers to hold off on the event for another year

Residents who enjoy taking part in the annual International Bridge Walk will have to wait as the event has been cancelled for a third straight year.

Held at the end of June every year, the bridge walk was forced to take another pause after the organizers and parties involved in the planning determined there were too many barriers to coordinate it successfully.

Headlining those barriers is the ArriveCAN app, which requires travellers entering Canada to submit their vaccination information, reason for travel, and length of stay on their mobile device.

Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce CEO Rory Ring says the app would be a deterrent for many residents interested in attending the event.  

“The app requires you to have a mobile device, and it also requires you to be somewhat web-savvy,” he says. “Not everybody who participates in the bridge walk has that ability. We have a number of seniors that come walk, and around 60 per cent of the attendance is from the U.S. side.”

For 33 years, the twin Saults have come together to make the bridge walk a staple in both communities, while corresponding with Engineers Week in Soo Michigan.

Along with Ring, the RCMP, Michigan Department of Transportation, Bridge Administration, the CBSA, as well as police services from both sides of the border are involved in the walk’s planning and feasibility.

Based on the current state of the border’s regulations, Ring says it just wasn’t meant to be this time around.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to it,” he says. “Sometimes, you just can’t get alignment, and when that happens, you really can’t provide the highest level of experience that you’d want people to have. We thought it’d be best to just leave it for the year.”

While the news is disappointing for many residents on both sides of the bridge, Ring is hopeful the walk will return in 2023.

“We know people are starting to want to get out and enjoy things just like this,” he says. “We’re all itching to have this experience, but you have to operate on the safe side of things and deliver a positive experience for everyone. We want to represent the community as best as we possibly can.”