The dual Peace Bridge Connecting Buffalo USA to Fort Erie Canal will never be built was the theme of my 2004 Masters Degree in Education project at SUNY College at Buffalo in 2004. I received my Masters. I assume my findings were worth the paper they were printed on. By 2004 the debate over the bridge was about ten years old. Here we are nine years after my project and nineteen years after the idea was announced and the bridge still not has been resolved.
The problem then, as it is now, there are too many conflicting interests in involved in the decision-making process. Fort Erie has 74 acres of land available for bridge services, Buffalo has 18 acres. Fort Erie has 30,000 residents – Buffalo 260,000. The bridge in Fort Erie will no expand into a residential neighborhood in Buffalo it will. Bridge traffic in Fort Erie bypasses its small central business district in Buffalo it passes right through it. The U.S. under-staffs the bridge crossing the Canadians don’t. The bridge is vital to Fort Erie economy (jobs) in Buffalo it is not. The list goes on and now the Governor of New York and Canada’s Counsel General have gotten involved and demands that people be replaced are invoked.
It is a mess.
It is time for everyone to grow up get serious and do what should have been done 20 years ago. Settle the issue. And here is how it must be done and done ASAP.
Going back to 1961, the City Of Buffalo has entered into Sister/Twinned City relationships with 9 cities around the world. The City of Siena, Italy was the first followed by Kanazawa, Japan in 1962. It is true you don’t hear anything about what having a Sister/Twinned City to the City of Buffalo. The partners are not in the news. The Buffalo Sister/Twinned City on-line brochure has not been updated for over 2 years. It does not even include Yildrim-Bursa, Turkey (2010) or Yeongcheong, Rep. Korea (2011). A safe bet would be to assume that 98% of the local population, including government and media members could name 3 of the Sister/Twinned cities.
Even with this unhappy situation, it is made worse. The Buffalo-Niagara Falls border crossing with Canada is among the busiest in the world. Approximately 5 million passenger vehicles cross the Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie. Annual spending by 3.1 million Canadian visitors (9.2% of population) adds $900 million to the local economy. Our Buffalo Sabres’ biggest professional hockey rivals are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians.
And yet, after 198 years of friendship following a nasty episode of tit-for-tat village burning during the War of 1812, there is no formal relationship between here and there. It would be sad to think this is because in reality no Canadian city wants Buffalo and/or Buffalo wants none of them. I suggest that this be given a hard look. Hands across the border is good for everyone particularly when it becomes possible to run community activities together to celebrate of differences and our neighborliness. Looking at the chart below you will find that the cities of Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Winnipeg do not have U.S. Sister/Twinned Cities arrangements. One of those for would be a good place to start relationship building.