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

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

Missing woman last seen downtown Chilliwack in late April

Family concerned for Rebecca Lynne Sackley’s well-being

Chilliwack prolific offender arrested after four months on the lam

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan in January

Harrison Hot Springs to partner with Sts’ailes for reconciliation event

The event will be funded by a grant meant to build dialogue between cities and local First Nations

Chilliwack vintage shop swings open doors at new location

Marion’s Dressing Room the newest place to shop on Mill Street

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

RCMP target speeders between Abbotsford and Surrey in month-long blitz

Officers throughout the province launch Swoop campaign

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Coquitlam RCMP release video in search for witness to crash that killed girl, 13

Witness is described as a slim Asian man with short, black hair, no facial hair and wearing glasses

Most Read