NIAGARA’S SIX BORDER MAYORS FORM BI-NATIONAL COALITION
FORT ERIE, October 12, 2004 - Border mayors representing Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls (New York) and Lewiston today held a media conference announcing the formation of the Niagara River Bi-National Border Mayors’ Coalition.
“We’re here today” explained Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri who opened the conference “to share with you the importance of the partnerships that these six border communities have formed in the Coalition. Through it we intend to develop strategies and address issues aimed at improving all of Niagara’s four border crossings”.
“This is an important first step”, stated Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello. “Because the residents of all of our communities want a border that is safe and ensures the efficient flow of people and goods. We have a long history of co-operation between Western New York and Niagara so it makes infinite sense for us to collaborate. Needless to say, a significant percentage of our industries are either bi-national, export-dependant or both”.
Coalition members stressed their willingness to work together especially in light of factors that over the last few years have negatively affected the border. Niagara Falls, New York Mayor Vincent Anello explained that “Increased population growth, economic conditions, shifts in transportation modality and the resulting increase in security-induced congestion as a result of the 9/11 aftermath are frustrating the free-flow of trade and economic growth”.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Mayor Gary Burroughs emphasized the economic context of the border. “The Niagara River constitutes the most significant transportation crossing into Eastern North America. The four highway bridges and two railway bridges make it the second busiest commercial border crossing along the Canada-US border, carrying approximately 19% of all Canada-US trade.”
“While this economic reality is vitally important to us all”, stated Mayor Ted Salci, “the timely development and effective management of safe, efficient border crossings and transportation approaches are essential for our future and continuing prosperity. This is why we’ll be addressing both capital and operational concerns”.
“Somehow the critical message “that a solution unimplemented is no solution at all”, explainedMayor Wayne Redekop, “is getting lost in the political noise of competing priorities at all government levels (Washington, Albany, Ottawa and Toronto). The Coalition is committed to impressing upon the federal, provincial and state governments that the border and bridge crossings are meant as infrastructure to move goods and people not to create traffic congestion. They are important economic drivers for both Canada and the United States”.