Border snafus a sign of things to come

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SURREY, B.C. — It took drivers up to two hours to cross at the Pacific Highway border crossing yesterday, and delays are expected to get longer over the course of the Labour Day weekend.

Ron Hays, a spokesman for U.S. Customs says the situation won’t improve any time soon, as his requests for more staff have gone unanswered. He advises drivers to avoid his border crossing altogether over the upcoming long weekend.

"It’s going to be tough, gridlock," Hays tells local media. "I suggest people go 20 minutes away to the Lynden crossing or over to Sumas. Or if they can, avoid weekends altogether."

But that’s not practical for truckers, so he says that crossing late at night or early in the morning is the next best alternative at the busy border crossing.

About 4,000 trucks cross the border at Blaine each day, and the B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) recently met with officials to appeal to them for a better system. The Pacific Highway is the busiest crossing in western Canada and BCTA president, Paul Landry, says delays there cost Canadian business $60 million each year.

But Hays says not to expect improvements any time soon. "We’ve made requests for additional staffing but I’m told that Congress has not included any additional inspectors for the northern border in next year’s budget, so I do not anticipate any relief soon."

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