Border crossing fee raises its ugly head again

Managing Editor Gary DeVonAt the last Oroville Chamber of Commerce meeting Bill Robinson, a member from Osoyoos, said there was talk from the Homeland Security Department asking for a study about charging $10 to cross into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico.

Robinson said, and most would agree, this would be devastating to Oroville’s rebirth as a shopping, food and entertainment destination for our neighbors to the north. He asked us to envision what a family of four would think about coming down to eat at one of our restaurants if it cost them $40 before they even made it to the city limits. The same would go for people wanting to buy groceries, clothing, hardware, auto parts or gas at one of our local businesses.

Well, it looks like the U.S. Senate has quashed the idea, realizing the detrimental affect such fees would have on both sides of the border. But why does this fee idea keep raising its ugly head? We on the northern border go through this kind of scare every few years. About every three years or so we have a plea in the letters to the editor and to the local chamber of commerce to write our legislators asking them to consider the consequences of such an action. Last time they were going to ask for less to cross, but it’s still a charge just the same. Along the 49th Parallel our legislators need to be promoting cross border traffic. It’s good for both countries.

Before the Senate shut the idea down, the Homeland Security Department was asking for a study on fees to help with the cost of security at land crossings. If a fee was imposed what would stop Canada from retaliating with a fee of their own? We will tell you what we thought– common sense. However, it seems the Canadian government has looked at imposing fees of their own to help deal with their increasing debt.

Rather than discouraging Americans from coming to spend our money in their stores and restaurants, the provinces and individual communities spend millions of dollars trying to entice us into their country. Why would their country want to throw up an additional roadblock? The best way to deal with debt is for more of their businesses to thrive. And, when most of their population and businesses are lined up along our shared border – they rely on cross border business even more than we do.

Oroville is just starting to recover from the low Canadian exchange rate of the last decade or so. That, combined with post 9-11 enhanced security at the border, turned the community into somewhat of a ghost town. Now we are seeing business come back, the familiar parking lots and streets are full of cars bearing BC-plates and that is a good sign.

Although this almost-crisis was averted once again, we need to stay on top of our two governments and let them know imposing a fee is not the answer to either of our countries’ security or debt problems. Free and easy trade between our countries is something we depend on and should be encouraged, not discouraged.