While the season has been inconvenient for boaters using the Morrisburg Public Dock, for those boaters who are returning to Canada after having landed in the United States, it is about to become even more so…and it is all because the phone used to report has been removed.
Although there is no longer a phone located at the Morrisburg Dock, boaters returning to Canada from the United States are still expected to report in says the Canada Border Service Agency.
However, CBSA Communications Officer, Caroline Desjarlais has indicated in an e-mail that “until the situation at the Morrisburg Town Dock is resolved, boaters may continue to report to the CBSA from this location, by contacting the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277 using their cellular phones.”
On July 29, The Leader was contacted by a local resident inquiring if “the Morrisburg Town dock was no longer a port of entry for Canadians returning by boat from the United States.”
After determining that the telephone located on the exterior wall of the dock area rest rooms and used to call in, was indeed gone, The Leader made calls to South Dundas municipal clerk Brenda Brunt and the Canada Border Service Agency.
According to Brunt, the removal of the phone did not involve the municipality. It was her understanding that Bell Canada had removed it, as it was not being used, and that it had been gone for quite some time…certainly weeks if not months.
When contacted Officer Desjarlais was unable to provide an immediate answer, but she did agree to look into the matter.
In a CBSA e-mail dated Wednesday, August 1, Desjarlais writes, “The CBSA has been advised that there is no longer a telephone available at the Morrisburg Town Dock marine telephone reporting site. The CBSA is investigating this matter; however, as an interim measure, this site is available for reporting to the CBSA by way of a cell phone.”
While the interim reporting measure is in place however, boaters without cell phones who are returning to Canada after having landed on U.S. soil will have to report from other nearby designated marine telephone reporting sites using the phones provided there. Locally the closest CBSA Reporting Sites are at Crysler Park Marina and Iroquois Marine Services.
Tim Robins at the Crysler Park Marina explains that the marina has a courtesy dock which enables boaters to tie up and report in at the CBSA Telephone Reporting location. Boaters are asked to advise the marina of the purpose of their visit.
He also suggests that, “they call ahead using VHF channel 68. That way we can direct them where to park, and we will know the nature of their visit before they arrive to save time.”
The CBSA advises that, “Until the situation at the Morrisburg Town Dock is resolved, boaters may continue to report to CBSA from this location using their cellular phones.”
According to the CBSA website under Reporting Requirements for Private Boaters: All private boaters who intend to land on Canadian soil, or who have departed Canadian waters and landed on United States soil, are required to report to a CBSA designated marine reporting site.
Upon arrival at a CBSA designated marine reporting site, boaters are to call the telephone Reporting Centre at 1-888-226-7277 from the phone provided to obtain clearance.
For boaters who do not land their vessel in the United States, but who did leave Canadian waters, the call-in may be made from cellular telephones upon arrival back in Canadian waters.
If a phone is not returned to the Morrisburg Dock and the facility loses its “marine reporting site status”, the result will be a major inconvenience for boaters, both visiting boaters and local boaters who have landed in the United States as they will have to travel to Crysler Marina or Iroquois Marine Services to access a designated marine reporting site.
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On March 20th, South Dundas council declared 397.31 acres of land as surplus. The decision has opened the door for the land on County Road 8 to be sold.
There are, however, those in South Dundas who strongly oppose the sale of the public land they call the ‘400.’
A passionate ‘letter to the editor’ was published in the April 11th issue of The Leader pleading the case for keeping the ‘400’ in public hands. Tyler Mills, author of the letter, asked for support from fellow township residents to save the land.
In that same edition of The Leader, it was reported that council, at the April 3rd meeting, approved a recommendation to hire Bowfin Environmental Consulting to complete a species at risk study, moving the land closer to sale.
On April 13th, Jim Mills, father to Tyler, contacted The Leader. As of that moment, he reported that he had attained 800 taxpayer signatures on a petition to stop the sale of the land.
“I received a call from the mayor (Steven Byvelds) yesterday,” he informed. “He said that my petition was useless without a letter with each with their concerns on why the land should be kept.”
Upset by the mayor’s message, Mills said, “we’re flooding the council meeting on Tuesday (April 17th). I expect to have 100 people there.”
“We have constitutional rights,” he continued. “I think a lot of decisions this current council’s making are one-sided and not in the best interest of the general public.”
The land, he said, “belongs to the taxpayers of South Dundas. It doesn’t cost anything to maintain.”
His message followed that of his son Tyler’s ‘letter to the editor’: “This land is virtually maintenance free to this townhsip. The road that runs through it is unmaintained, it is overgrown, and tore up from years of riding and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Also, in his letter, Tyler informed that the ‘400’ “is a playground of a different kind, a playground without monkey bars, swings, or slides, but a playground none the less.”
“This property has provided recreation of a different variety to many outdoorsmen. ATV, dirt bike, skidoo riders, cross-country skiers, nature enthusiasts, and families from in and out of this township who prefer the serenity, seclusion, and natural beauty of this property to the other public parks and recreation areas in the township,” he continued.
“The impact on the folks who use this public property could be potentially devastating, for it is truly the last large piece of bush that exists in this township, as the satellite imagery will confirm.”
According to Jim Mills, he is asking that residents of South Dundas come together on this issue and “support me because I’m supporting you.”
The April 17th South Dundas council meeting took place following The Leader’s press deadline. Look for coverage of the meeting’s events in next week’s paper, April 25th.