Ottawa

'Depressed' New York towns welcome Ontario shoppers

The high Canadian dollar is helping propel Ontario shoppers to struggling New York communities such as Ogdensburg as businesses north of the border worry how new cross-border shopping habits will affect them.

Ontario businesses ask cross-border shoppers to consider impact on jobs, taxes

The high Canadian dollar is helping propel Ontario shoppers to struggling New York communities such as Ogdensburg as businesses north of the border worry how new cross-border shopping habits will affect them.

Now that the Canadian dollar has been trading above par with the U.S. dollar— hitting a highof $1.10 in early Novemberbefore dipping a few cents — the Canada Border Services Agency told CBC that there are 10 times the number of vehicles crossing the St. Lawrence River at Ogdensburg on some weekends than there were at this time last year.

Sandra Porter, director of the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, said that kind of traffic is a welcome relief.

"We find it encouraging for Canadians to come over and spend money here and help our local economy, because this is a very depressed area of New York State," she said. "And we really do appreciate the business. We need it."

Canadian tourism numbers were way down over the summer, Porter added.

But now Canadian shoppers such as Sonya MacLay, who said she hasn't been over the border in a long time, are back in New York state in search of bargains.

"The dollar is so good, and we wanted to get some Christmas shopping done," she said with a laughwhile taking her familyon aWatertown mall excursion.

Many shoppers like MacLay head to big department and outlet stores in Watertown and Syracuse, but smaller towns such as Ogdensburg are also ramping up their advertising to Canadians for everything from hardware to groceries.

Meanwhile, businesses in towns such as Brockville, on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence, are concerned about their potential customers heading south.

Sue Ling Ching, executive director of Brockville's Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes Canadian shoppers think about the jobs and taxes that local businesses generate before heading to the U.S. for a shopping spree.

But she said her group doesn't yet have a strategy to deal with the new problem.

"We'll continue to monitor it and at some point we will be going to our membership to see if they have started to notice any trends or differences," she said, "and then also monitor what they're hoping to do to mitigate the situation."

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