Quebec-NY Corridor News

SPECIAL EDITION

JUNE 26, 2023

EDITORIAL
“GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS AT OUR BORDER”

We have very good news to share! Our Canadian friends are back enjoying the North Country in large numbers, with estimates that Canadian visitation in our area is now as high as 90% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels! The resumption of visitation levels here continues to be even stronger than elsewhere, thanks to the special strength of the social and economic connections between Quebec and northern N.Y. and the heightened marketing that has been launched in the Montreal and Ottawa markets.

But here’s the bad news. Because of demands at the southern border, CBP personnel are again being temporarily reassigned from the northern border and, partially as a result, available overtime is running out. The result being seen at major ports of entry all across the northern border is an inability to open sufficient lanes for the renewed levels of car traffic, resulting in longer back-ups and wait times than should be necessary if all the staff were on hand, and with predictions of a tough summer for travelers finally deciding to come down. In addition, there is inadequate staffing to clear the huge backlog of NEXUS applications and renewals, greatly undermining a key U.S.-Canadian program designed to accelerate car flow.

Our federal representatives helped to object to this “robbing Peter to pay Paul” approach to border staffing several years ago. While the pandemic ended the concern for almost three years, we again suggest that while the challenges at the southern border are real, we must not allow at this time of vital recovery on the U.S.-Canada front a diminishment of the resources we require for efficient handling of legitimate travel and trade. And so we have joined with others in calling upon Congresswoman Stefanik and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand among others to ensure full CBP staffing and sufficient funding at our northern crossings through the summer. and beyond.

We hope for a resolution before we are much deeper into summer.

Onward and upward!

Garry Douglas

President and CEO

North Country Chamber of Commerce

CHAMBER CALLS FOR SOLUTION TO RESTORE AMTRAK SERVICE TO MONTREAL

Amtrak has announced the suspension of the daily Adirondack passenger service between New York and Montreal, terminating the train at Albany-Rensselaer. The action follows the reported imposition of a 10 MPH speed limit by CN Rail on its trackage north of the border anytime the external temperature exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It’s almost as if there’s a conspiracy to interfere with the long awaited renewal of cross border travel now that we have things flowing again,” says Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “Northern border staffing transfers by the feds to the southern border are reducing lane openings just as we are seeing Canadian visitation at upwards of 90% of pre-pandemic levels. Then when they get here, they find a Beekmantown rest area with a closed welcome center and broken down rest rooms. And now, shortly after Amtrak resumes Montreal rail service and we are rebuilding ridership, the plug is pulled again.”

Douglas reports that word of the problem came late last week, with Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik actively interacting with Amtrak, CN Rail and the Canadian Embassy in Washington.

“We need a way forward and are in active communication,” says Douglas. “One would have thought that three years of shutdown provided ample time to address any needs and concerns. We hope a resolution can be worked out that avoids a lengthy suspension.”

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North Country Chamber of Commerce

518.563.1000

[email protected]

northcountrychamber.com

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