Atlantic bubble reunites border communities
Amherst, N.S., and Sackville, N.B., mayors thrilled with border reopening
Sackville, N.B., and Amherst, N.S. are about 15 kilometres away from each other but separated by the provincial border. The two communities didn't realize how much they depend on each other until COVID-19 shut down the provincial border.
When the Atlantic bubble opened on Friday, some people living in the two border towns were quick to make the trip to the other town — something that each mayor said was long overdue.
"Socially and economically we're very intertwined right here at the border," said Amherst Mayor David Kogon. "The benefit of opening that border is seen even greater in our community."
Kogon's comments were echoed by Sackville Mayor John Higham.
"We just took it for granted," Higham said referring to the relationships that two communities have with one another.
"With the COVID measures interrupting that, we suddenly found an appreciation for just how much we do — both socially and economically — together."
Kogon and Higham said there was a noticeable difference around each of their towns this weekend after the border reopened.
"There's a lot more traffic around, and obviously more licence plates from particularly New Brunswick, and a few from P.E.I.," Kogon said.
And Kogon said it's good for business in Amherst, but it's also good for people who have close friends and family across the border that's been separated from each other during the coronavirus lockdown.
"It's really, I think, having a major beneficial impact on their mental and social well-being — so you see a lot of happier people," Kogon said.
Higham said that both communities recognize the strong ties with each other better now coming out of the coronavirus lockdown, and hopes they can build on that.
"There's some strengths there that we can work on together and our two communities should be able to prosper even better."
"Our unique economy of education … is fully dependent on people from Amherst and Moncton from coming down and participating in the things we offer," Higham said.
Though it was a welcome reunion between the two communities, heavy traffic at the provincial border is still a factor for some people.
Chuck Linney of Amherst was thrilled to make the trip to Sackville on Saturday to shop for some parts he needed for his camper.
Not having access to the nearby town since March, he and his wife decided to make the trip again on Sunday — this time they packed up their mountain bikes and drove to Sackville to ride some of the trails in the town.
"It was a little bit like getting your life back, you know it was a little bit of normalcy," Linney said about having access to nearby Sackville again.
"When you're living this close to the border, it's like an extension of our home community."
He hadn't made the trip to the border community since March 1.
But, things took a turn for the couple who waited 40 minutes to get back home in Nova Scotia at the border Sunday afternoon, when traffic became backlogged.
It was a bad enough experience to make him think twice about going across the border again.
"It'll be awhile before I do it again," he said.