New Brunswick

Mayor concerned about Tide Head-Matapedia border crossing

A northern New Brunswick mayor is raising alarms over what he considers holes in the province's border protection efforts.

Randy Hunter says not enough guards at border, questions provincial estimates of vehicles

Randy Hunter, the mayor of Tide Head, says the crossing at the Matapedia Bridge in his community isn’t staffed properly. (Colin McPhail/CBC)

A northern New Brunswick mayor is raising alarms over what he considers holes in the province's border protection efforts.

The province has public safety officials at border crossings on both the Quebec and Nova Scotia borders.

But Randy Hunter, the mayor of Tide Head, said the crossing at the Matapedia Bridge in his community isn't staffed properly.

He said the border has seen an increase in traffic because of weight restrictions on the Van Horne Bridge in Campbellton, and public safety has been waving vehicles through because they can't keep up.

He also said he has witnessed some people flout the rules by using an entrance that isn't guarded.

"There's a train bridge located right above the highway bridge and people are literally walking across that bridge and meeting up with their friends or family in the New Brunswick area," said Hunter.

Quebec licence plates

Region 5, which includes Tide Head, has reverted to the "orange" stage of COVID-19 recovery because of a cluster of cases linked to a doctor that traveled to Quebec.

Hunter said residents have seen plenty of Quebec vehicles in the community and he questions whether they are there for essential services.

"If you go to our local Walmart or Superstore, the two largest retail outlets, the parking lots are full and I would say 40 percent of those cars are from Quebec," said Hunter. 

“An average of 65 personal vehicles cross the Matapedia bridge daily, on average five are turned back every day," said the province (Google Maps)

"People that are coming in from Quebec that are deemed essential workers, they're supposed to be into their workplace [and] back. It's not happening. They're shopping."

In an emailed statement, Public Safety said it is limiting non-essential travel into the province, including at the Matapedia entry.

"Peace officers are stationed at the Matapedia point of entry at all hours," said the statement.

"An average of 65 personal vehicles cross the Matapedia bridge daily, on average five are turned back every day."

Questioning numbers

Hunter said the officers he has spoken to say people attempting to enter the province have given them "every excuse possible" to do so.

He said the province may have the wrong idea about just how many vehicles are trying to cross at the Matapedia Bridge.

"The Premier's reporting and the news is reporting perhaps 60 to 70 cars a day, well that is not factual," said Hunter. 

"I know people that work for Public Safety there and the average [number of cars] on that bridge is about 200 a day,"

Hunter said the number of cars with Quebec licence plates has concerned his constituents.

"I'm getting calls and messages from people that are really concerned about the situation we're in and the traffic of Quebec cars that are in the region," said Hunter.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton and Information Morning Moncton

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