The Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce (ON) says the risks outweigh the rewards of reopening the Canada-U.S. border.
CEO Rory Ring is responding to an idea presented by the mayor of Sault Michigan that the border could be reopened regionally as opposed to all at once.
Don Gerrie argues that given the low number of COVID-19 cases in the region, the two Saults could benefit from a regional reopening of the border.
“While we are all feeling the challenges of having the border closed, whether they be business, tourism or personally felt, the membership believes that the border should remain closed until there is better containment of the virus in both countries,” says Ring.
“At this time the risk reward assessment would say there is just far too much risk in a border opening beyond supply chain and the movement of goods and limited services.” Ring says the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been hard on local businesses, with tourist operators hurting the most.
“There have been significant impacts across Northern Ontario especially for those resort operators in the more northern regions of Algoma,” says Ring. “Many of those had 80% of their business based in the U.S. and provided fly-in services from the U.S.”
Ring pointed out that the cancellation of the Agawa Train Tour will have a significant impact – taking as much as $7.4 million out of the local economy this fall.
While he does acknowledge local businesses are feeling the absence of our American neighbours, Ring says the current situation is driving more Canadian tourists to the region.
“Some operators have benefited from more tourists discovering their own backyard and have been able to adjust operations to accommodate those travellers and staffing levels while ensuring both are given a very safe environment to be in.”