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

Pitt Meadows Gun Club negotiating with neighbours

Hours of shooting, special events and lead management on the table

Being Young: A prescription for wellness

‘People drawn to animals because we are social creatures.’

Suspicious vehicle fire closes Harris Rd.

An Air One helicopter was circling the scene.

B.C. Ferries cancels Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen sailings over propulsion problem

11:00 ferry now good to go, but lines anticipated

MacDuff’s Call: Potential for deadly outcomes

Council passes Wildlife and Vector Control Bylaw.

Mad Hatters ‘celebrate’ mental illness

Event Saturday in Maple Ridge.

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

Suspected scammer attempts to use Black Press newspaper to dupe woman

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley resident received suspicious call

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

Most Read