On the heels of a second meeting in Republic about the reduction in hours at the Danville border crossing, the Canada Border Service Agency at the same location has announced its intent to match the American hours as of Nov. 26.
The meting at the Republic school gym on Friday was attended by more than 200 people who wanted to give their thoughts on the change in hours and how it has impacted them. For Republic and the small surrounding towns, Grand Forks is the nearest “large” city with amenities like a movie theatre and swimming pool.
The meeting was organized by Congresswoman Cathy Morris, and attended by several senior members of American Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) management, as well as elected local officials. The intent of the meting was to demonstrate to CBP agents the impact of the reduction with the hope of changing the decision.
Repeatedly, CBP officers stressed that one of the major factors in the decision making process was the volume of commercial traffic crossing at the port during the now-reduced hours. The volume was low, and the dollar figure of commercial goods coming intot he U.S. also low.
CBP officials also spoke to the struggle to staff openings at small, rural ports. A major concern was under-staffing, leading to exceptionally costly temporary duty assignments and lots of overtime for CBP staff to maintain the Danville border hours. By reducing hours, a current vacancy at the port will not be filled. Combined with other cost savings, CBP estimated that this will save about $200,000 per year.
Several audience members said they would like to see the Ferry point of crossing closed rather than the reduction in hours at the Danville port. Officials promised to take that under consideration, but noted again concerns about commercial traffic volume at the port as a factor.
The Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) also announced Oct. 19 that it would be changing its hours to mirror their U.S. counterparts as of Nov. 26. Currently, the American crossing closes at 8p.m., but coming from the U.S. patrons can enter Canada until midnight.
As of Nov. 26, the hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays. The CBSA news release notes the change to align with CBP hours. After those hours, CBSA points to the Cascade crossing as an alternative open until midnight.