Town to review ‘line-cutting’ at U.S. border

Duane Hicks

The town is going to take another look at how it can reduce the incidents of motorists cutting into the traffic line heading to the U.S. border crossing.
The request to do so came from the Police Services Board (PSB) at Monday night’s council meeting.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, who sits on the board, said a committee had looked at these types of issues a couple of years ago but the PSB had received more complaints this year about motorists cutting into the line.
“The lines in the old days used to be maybe only three days a week—undoubtedly they were longer, but they were only three days a week and so we didn’t have such a headache,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted.
“Nowadays, it’s almost any given day of the week, maybe with the exception of Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We’re getting up to five days a week when we have those lineups and so we’re getting more people cutting into the lines.
“It’s become a headache again.”
Coun. Wiedenhoeft said several steps have been taken in the past, such as posting signs indicating motorists get to the back of the line, signs indicating “no U turns,” and signs asking motorists to allow trucks to cut in at Church Street and Central Avenue, as well as putting up blockades at certain corners to prevent left-hand turns (although this last step likely was in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act and discontinued).
One of the more recent suggestions brought up at a PSB meeting was to post additional information at the bottom of existing signs indicating a number where people can call police to report another motorist they see cutting in line.
“We’re at a loss how to police this,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft admitted. “When the lines occur four or five days a week, we can’t expect the police to send a patrol down there.
“We just don’t have the manpower to do it,” he stressed.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted the PSB received one letter from an individual who claimed she had at least 40 friends who cross at this border every year, and they are thinking of going to Rainy Rover to cross rather than here at Fort Frances.
“I don’t think we want to see that happen too often,” he warned. “I think some people actually do stop and do spend some money [in town], although most people stay in line.
“Nonetheless, it does give a black mark to Fort Frances if this woman spreads that it’s not a friendly place to pass through.
“I guess what we’d like to see is help from the town council as to where they’d like to go with this in maybe solving some of these problems,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft added.
“It is a problem,” agreed Mayor Roy Avis. “This year, it seemed to be more of one than any other time.”
Council referred the matter to the Operations and Facilities executive committee for its recommendation.
But Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said he wasn’t sure what more could be done, adding a consultant came to town years ago to try and figure out how to fix the lineup problem and couldn’t.
“Let’s study problems that we can solve. This one’s gone on for years,” Brown remarked.
“We’ve got ‘no left-hand turns’ posted at these places, and people are still turning into the line,” he noted.
Brown added the border is a federal crossing, and the town has a right to lobby Ottawa for funding to help with the problem.
“Put it back in their court,” he suggested. “I know we can come up with a couple more signs, but is that going to solve the problem?
“I think we should be lobbying the government.
“As a taxpayer, I don’t want to see us spending more money doing something that isn’t of benefit to the community,” Brown said.