New Customs facility officially opens

A large crowd was on hand Wednesday morning for the official opening of the new Customs and Immigration facility here.
“With a new location, modern facilities, and technology upgrades, the Fort Frances border crossing is equipped to provide more efficient services to the travelling public and commercial traffic,” said local MP Robert Nault, also the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Other guest speakers included Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, provincial NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton, Lysanne Gauvin, assistant commissioner of the Northern Ontario region for Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and Irene Bader, director general of Citizenship and Immigration Canada for the region.
The new facility, which actually opened to the public back on Feb. 14, doubled the traffic lanes from two to four and added computer systems to help streamline commercial shipments.
Last year, one million people crossed the border into Canada here in more than 400 000 vehicles. The old port-of-entry had been criticized in the past for its long lines and slow service.
The new facility—now located on Church Street and off the international bridge—is an effort to speed up traffic through the crossing and improve commercial benefits for Fort Frances.
“If I had to wait six hours to cross once, I probably wouldn’t come back, either,” remarked Nault, referring to the old facility.
He spoke of the new facility as a step towards re-inventing Fort Frances and securing its position as the “gateway to the Northwestern Ontario.”
“We have to convince [visitors] to stay, stop, and play,” he stressed.
In his speech, Hampton looked towards the future.
“It’s a project we can build upon,” he noted, adding that the “projects that arise out of this are also worth doing.”
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony also was held, with a barbecue afterwards.