|“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!
President and CEO
North Country Chamber of Commerce