- According to reports, Canada and the United States are negotiating to close several small border crossings and merge others due to a new perimeter security deal.
- A leaked report revealed details of 20 “small ports of entry” located at rural or small-town crossings from St. Stephen, N.B. to Chopaka, B.C., and includes one at Midway (between Osoyoos and Grand Forks).
- The crossings will be examined and their futures will be then determined.
- “We’re not all that thrilled about it,” said Jim Madder, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Midway.
- “We’re definitely trying to contact some people to see what’s going on.”
- Madder stated he was unaware of the potential closure until someone sent him the link.
- “We’re trying to see how much merit there is to the report,” Madder concluded.
- Mike Patton, Director of Communications for the Ministry of Public Safety stated that no decisions have been made in regards to the report.
- “Our government is focused on ensuring our shared border is secure while easing the flow of legitimate travel and trade,” Patton said.
- “We are investing in border infrastructure to support this objective, including new lanes at the busiest crossings.”
- Four options were discussed in the report, ranging from shared facilities, mirroring working hours, “remote-technology solution” and fully closing the port.
- Mirroring hours is when the Canada and U.S. ports have the same opening and closing hours.
- Sharing facilities and mirroring hours are already in place in several locations, but the proposal of a remote solution, where travelers will speak to border guards through a camera, has raised questions.
- There was no mention of an unmanned border post in the report
- There are currently 52 land crossings covered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
- On Apr. 1, 2011, three small ports were closed: Jamieson’s Line and Franklin Centre in Quebec, and Big Beaver in Saskatchewan.
- Government official denies closure plan
- The Canadian government was equally quick at denying the reports that the ports were being closed. In a recent edition of the Winnipeg Free Press Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who is responsible for the Canada Border Services Agency, said he’s been involved in discussions with senior U.S. officials aimed at protecting smaller border crossings and ensuring they remain open.
- “No such discussions are taking place and in fact the allegations… are entirely false,” Toews said.
- Toews said no one on his political staff or department is aware of the Small Port Working Group, adding he believes its existence pre-dates the Harper government’s discussions with the U.S. on a new security arrangement between the two countries.
- “This document is completely at odds with the direction our government is going in,” Toews said, adding current discussions about small border crossings have included sharing facilities or services and the use of technology but with the intent of keeping small crossings open.
- Toews said the options discussed in the leaked documents are no longer part of the negotiations between the two countries.
- Chopaka/Nighthawk Port of Entry
- Like the Canadian port at Midway, the Chopaka/Nighthawk Port of Entry is a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. border crossing located northwest of Oroville. Currently a new multi-million dollar port of entry building is being constructed on the U.S. (Nighthawk) side of the border with monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
- Although a closure of the Canadian (Chopaka) side of the port of entry would inconvenience those who wish to cross into Canada at this remote crossing, it would have less affect on trade between Osoyoos and Oroville because of the 24-hour commercial port located between the two.
- Ron Arrigoni, Port Director for the Oroville Port of Entry is also the supervisor for the Nighthawk (Chopaka) and Ferry (Midway) crossings.
- “The new Nighthawk Port of Entry building should be done this month or next and we have no intention of closing the U.S. crossing,” Arrigoni said by phone Tuesday, adding that there were no plans for the Americans to close the Ferry crossing either.
Canadian official denies Midway and Chopaka border crossings may be closed
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