Fewer People Crossing the Seaway International Bridge – Who Wins? Roger Sauvé – December 28, 2009

SD&G Economic Hits and Runs by Roger Sauvé – Fewer people crossed the bridge in 2009, but who wins? A brain teaser?

Statistics Canada reported that 189,000 motor vehicles with US plates entered Cornwall via the bridge from January to October 2009. This was down 30% from the same period a year earlier. Bad news. What about Canadian plated vehicles coming back over the bridge? About 437,000 Canadian vehicles came back over the January to October period, down 26% from a year earlier. More bad news. This reduction sounds like it is bad for business on both sides of the border and it probably is … but there is more to the story.

Apart from the percentage declines, it should perfectly clear that Canadians and people in SD&G are more than twice as likely to go to the US via the bridge then are Americans to come here. It has been so for many years and we all know it.

So who wins because of the decline in crossings, the US or the Canadian side or the border, in terms of terms ofbusiness? This is not an easy one to answer. Let’s play with these numbers a bit. The answer may surprise you. It surprised me. Follow closely, OK.

In the first 10 months of 2008, 320,000 more Canadian vehicles re-entered Canada than American vehicles entered Canada via the bridge. So far in 2009, the number of Canadian vehicles was “only” 248,000 (437,000 minus 189,000) more than American vehicles. This is a smaller negative, eh.

Let’s say each vehicle went shopping or gambling when they were in the other country and spent or lost $100 each time. Under these simple assumptions, in 2008, Cornwall businesses might have suffered a $32 million dollar (320,000 x $100) sales drag relative to US businesses. So far in 2009, and using the same simple assumptions, the sales drag for Cornwall might be “only” $24.8 million (248,000 x $100). That smaller negative again. eh.

This suggests that perhaps Cornwall businesses had a net gain of $7.2 million  ($24.8 million minus $32 million) or more precisely Cornwall businesses had a smaller loss of $7.2 million than a year earlier.

Roger Sauvé is President of People Patterns Consulting (www.peoplepatternsconsulting.com). Roger is an economist and demographer and lives in Summerstown.

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  1. Is that supposed to be good news? It’s something like the Conservative government saying that we haven’t met our Kyoto target on greenhouse gas emmissions reduction, but our rate of increase has slowed down.

  2. Does statistics canada measure number of vehicles that pass through the cbsa facility on cornwall island or number of vehicles that actually cross the north bridge into cornwall? Akwesasne residents are said to represent upto 70% of traffic through the cbsa facility. Does Akwesasne represent 70% of bridge crossers economic activity in cornwall(that actually shop in cornwall)? Do Akwesasne residents represent a higher percentage of economic activity in cornwall, considering the number of alternate destinations that bridge crossers may be headed to? What is the economic affect of Akwesasne on Cornwall?

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