Mayors criticize inconsistencies at New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border
HALIFAX -- It was smooth sailing at the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border on Friday, but it hasn't always been that way since the opening of the 'Atlantic bubble.' While permission to travel interprovincially has given Maritimers their sense of freedom back, mayors from both provinces are raising concerns over the challenges that the bubble has brought about.
The mayors of Sackville, N.B., and Amherst, N.S., are both expressing their concerns to the Higgs government.
"The problem seems to be on our New Brunswick side," says Sackville Mayor John Higham. "It's uncertain what you're going to run into when you come to that state."
In a letter addressed to the premier, Mayor Higham and Amherst Mayor David Kogon explained their frustrations with inconsistencies at the border. They say residents on both sides have stopped travelling across the border as they are unsure of what to expect.
"They formed the bubble because the four premiers felt that our four provinces were relatively low-risk," says Kogon. "But we felt that, within the four provinces, there should be an absolute free-flow of people and goods, just like there was before COVID-19 – it's not happening."
They say long border delays are factoring into lost business. Additionally, essential workers are being held up in traffic jams – causing them to quit their jobs rather than deal with long commutes.
"We've heard from a variety of people in places that some had lost employees because they no longer wanted to wait in a lineup for an hour or two a day and [at least] plan for it – because sometimes that didn't happen and sometimes it did," says Higham.
And employees agree.
"I work at the McDonald's on Main Street, and a lot of our workers travel back and forth from Amherst to Sackville to work," says Sackville resident, Bradley Brooker. "A lot of the time, they are held up at the border for three hours at most."
In addition to complaints from the mayors and residents, the Cumberland Business Connector has also written a letter to premiers of both provinces with similar concerns - specifically the economic impact.
"We're hoping that they take the tents down completely and put the resources into the peripheral area; the border with Quebec, the border with Maine, ports, airports – those types of things," says Cumberland Business Connector CEO, Jonathan McClelland.
Meanwhile, the mayors have yet to hear Higgs, but they note they are hoping to meet with him in person to explain the ongoing challenges.