Borders slated for upgrades

Paterson and Waneta listed among Ports of Entry to be updated.

Five rural B.C. border crossings are up for a modern redesign after receiving an influx of federal dollars in late July.

Paterson’s port of entry (POE) and the Waneta Border Crossing are on the list, though construction won’t begin for a few more years, says Robin Barcham, communications advisor for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“The POEs were built decades ago and need to be upgraded or replaced to satisfy the demands of modern border management,” she explained.

“Improvements to facilities will help ensure our various sized and remote ports of entry will continue to deliver service excellence to travellers and traders.”

The current three-storey Port of Paterson structure was built in 1950, according to Barcham. Upgrades to the site were made in 1980 and again in 1990.

Waneta’s two-storey port building is now 40 years old. It’s listed in “good” condition on the government’s treasury website, but the floor size is noted to be only 171 square-metres, and presents challenges for border service agents.

Barcham said new space demands are needed for seized goods, technology enhancements and other operational requirements.

“Upgrades to our POEs will ensure border service officers work in facilities that meet our current and future realities and requirements, which include increased traveller volumes, service levels, and greater use of technology,” she added.

“Modern port of entry facilities will help ensure the free flow of legitimate travel and trade across Canadian borders and improved operational efficiencies.”

Further from home, the Midway Border Crossing, and Chopaka Border Crossing, which connects Cawston (near Keremeous) to Loomis, Washington, are up for improvements beginning in 2017.

Customs offices at the latter two ports have been in use since the gold rush boom of the late 1800s, though the actual Port of Midway was constructed in 1951 and Chopaka’s in 1954.

The fifth site slated for improvements is the Port of Rykerts. Built in 1973, the Rykerts port connects Creston to Bonners Ferry, ID.

Conservative MP Dan Albas, from the Central Okanagan-Similkamen-Nicola riding, announced (July 29) the $37.5 million investment in Paterson, Midway and Chopaka as part of the government’s $440 million infrastructure funding program to replace ageing ports of entry across Canada.

David Wilks, Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia confirmed in a July 29 news release that Rykerts and Waneta upgrades are included under the umbrella of the federal funding.

Details of how much money will be earmarked for each crossing and what improvements to expect, have yet to be announced.

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