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Council gives thumbs up to Customs design

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Town council has approved in principle the latest design for a new Canada Customs facility here at its regular meeting Monday night.

“Option K-9” involves building the new facility on the south side of Church Street near the corner of Central Avenue. The Ontario travel information centre would be moved to the northeast corner of Mowat Avenue and Church, where Sunset Country Ford used to be located.

The roadway then would be extended south of Church Street’s present boundaries, allowing for up to three non-commercial Customs booths and the far south lane dedicated for commercial traffic only.

Ample room would be left for commercial traffic to either turn down Mowat Avenue to Scott Street or turn around completely and head back to Central Avenue.

If commercial traffic were to proceed east on Church Street, another road would have to be built between the parking lot opposite the Royal Canadian Legion and the Ministry of Transportation building to Nelson Street, which would include a rounded corner to allow large trucks to reach the existing truck route there.

Although discussion on the design was held behind closed doors, the open vote on the proposal was passed unanimously by council based on six conditions:

•the cost of the facility be absorbed totally by Abitibi-Consolidated and Revenue Canada;

•all town properties required for the facility be purchased at market value;

•“Connecting Link” status be extended to the streets which would accommodate traffic from the U.S. (Central Avenue presently has such status);

•final architecture and survey measurements must be given to the town;

•concerns raise by North American Lumber about unloading space must be resolved by Dec. 15; and

•a cost estimate be calculated for any work town crews will have to do on the project, which then would be handed over to Abitibi and Revenue Canada.

“That position, with those six conditions, is an answer to the question asked by MP Bob Nault some meetings ago,” noted CAO Bill Naturkach. “Now the proponents will start the ball rolling.”

Naturkach said the cost of the work the town would do on the project was estimated at more than $761,000 at last Tuesday’s special meeting with the mill and Canada Customs, where council got a chance to go over the proposal.

But that figure is far from final, he stressed, saying there’s a 16-item list of things or services the town has to do, such as new road construction, with some unknowns still in that.

“It needs to be refined,” he said. “I’ve still got numbers coming into me. But it’s a good start.”

Naturkach also stressed this figure is not the cost of the entire project.

“There still is the cost from Abitibi to do the things they have to do [and] there’s still the things that Canada Customs has to do,” he said.

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