Southbound vehicles heading into the U.S. at Blaine.

U.S. senators torpedo idea of new fee to cross border

Extra charge was proposed on land crossings into States from Canada, Mexico

U.S. law makers have scrapped a proposal to slap a new fee on Canadians crossing the border.

The Department of Homeland Security had wanted the toll applied at land crossings into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico, but the U.S. Senate judiciary committee voted  Thursday to block the idea, at least for this year.

Business leaders on both sides of the border opposed the idea, warning it could create much longer border wait time and hamper trade and commerce.

The fee on vehicles and pedestrians was proposed for further study as a way to generate new revenue for Homeland Security, which has been forced by arbitrary U.S. budget cuts to reduce customs staffing.

Bellingham Chamber of Commerce president Ken Oplinger had predicted the new border-crossing fee would never be implemented, noting similar schemes have been proposed and rejected before.

“We were pretty sure this was what the outcome was going to be,” he said, noting there was broad political opposition in the U.S., not just from border communities.

He noted the Senate vote merely blocks funding to study the idea for the next fiscal year.

“We’ll see what happens in future years,” Oplinger said. “It’s something to keep an eye on but we don’t need to worry about it for right now.”

The amount of the fee was never specified, but Canadians who go to the U.S. by air or sea already pay a $5.50 customs fee, usually built into airline ticket prices.

The Surrey Board of Trade also welcomed the decision, saying the fees would have been damaging to the economy.

While the focus today is on Canadian cross-border shoppers heading south, Oplinger noted Canada could also have lost out if the loonie falls against the U.S. dollar in the coming years.

“In 10 years who knows, the Canadian economy could be just as reliant on Americans coming north and not getting them because of the fee as well.”

Photo: Ken Oplinger

Just Posted

No charges against cop accused of stuffing money into sock during search

BC Prosecution Service says not enough evidence against Abbotsford officer

$7.4 million in funding for seniors’ housing in Mission

Province announced today that it will provide funding for 74 new housing units for local seniors

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Abbotsford murder victim identified as Jagvir Malhi

Police say killing linked to Lower Mainland gang conflict

UPDATE: Man, 19, dies in shooting on Ross Road in Abbotsford

Victim was airlifted to hospital Monday afternoon, but died shortly afterwards

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read