Blue Water Bridge currency exchange to close

The Blue Water Bridge is leaving the money changing business.

The Federal Bridge Corporation that operates the Canadian half of the Blue Water Bridge said in a news release it will no longer operate its long-standing storefront currency exchange as of Feb. 28, and will instead offer the space for lease to business ventures “aimed at enhancing the customer experience at the Blue Water Bridge location.”

Since the federal government amalgamated the former Blue Water Bridge Authority with the Federal Bridge Corporation in 2015, the Crown corporation has been reviewing all its operations, including the currency exchange located near its toll booths in Point Edward, said corporation spokesperson Andre Girard.

The currency exchange’s primary objective was generating revenue for long-term capital needs at the crossing, the corporation said.

“It was clear, after analysis, that the corporate effort and risk exposure of the operation outweighed any real or perceived benefits to the corporation, including revenues,” Girard said.

“Our mandate with the government is really to operate, maintain and build bridges.”

Girard said the decision was made to focus on that mandate.

That will impact seven jobs at the bridge, including a manager, along with four full-time and two part-time cashiers.

Those workers have been provided with options in accordance with their terms of employment and collective agreement, the corporation said.

“They are all eligible to invoke bumping rights under the terms of the collective agreement, or accept a separation package,” Girard said.

“I know our staff met with the employees this week. It’s never easy.”

A competitive process to offer the site for lease by an independent third party business operator is expected to begin soon.

“We’re just opening the gate and we’re asking for people to apply,” Girard said.

“We have no idea at this point if it’s going to become a restaurant or a souvenir shop or a currency exchange. The door’s open and the best one will get the lease.”

But, he added, the business will need to offer services benefiting bridge users.

At this point, there’s no timeline for when a commercial operation will take up the space after the bridge’s currency exchange closes at the end of February.

“It’s in our benefit to get this going as quick as possible, in terms of revenues, but at the same time we really want to pick the best option,” Girard said.

The corporation believes other currency exchange options are available, and it will work to ensure bridge users are aware of the coming change, he said.

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