EDITORIAL: Border upgrade welcome

News that the Aldergrove border crossing will get a new building and Nexus lane starting in 2016 – and that there will be an expanded commercial port of entry there – is excellent news for cross-border travellers across Metro Vancouver.

In recent years, local border crossings have become increasingly congested, due in part to both population growth in border communities such as Surrey and White Rock, and the Canadian loonie being – until recent months, at least – near par with the U.S. dollar, thus drawing shoppers stateside.

So, with traffic increasing at both Douglas and Pacific Highway crossings here, it makes sense for the Aldergrove crossing to expand. The Nexus lane will be especially helpful to ease the burden at South Surrey’s two crossings, and will offer much improved service to a large population area.

The news about the commercial port of entry is particularly important to local business. In Langley, growth of the Gloucester industrial area and proximity to Highway 1 makes it a natural for businesses to ship goods via Highway 13 and the Guide Meridian in Washington. And while Surrey-based shippers will likely continue to move commercial goods through the Pacific Highway crossing, it at the very least provides more options during heavy-traffic times, saving importers and exporters both time and money.

Though construction projects at the crossing may cause disruptions to travelers in the short term – one needn’t look further than Douglas-crossing upgrades in 2008 and ‘09 for evidence of such issues – in the long run, the move will be good for travellers south of the Fraser. As well, if the project does, in fact, provide a boost to industry, it may well increase employment in Langley, Surrey and surrounding communities, most of which continue to grow rapidly.

Businesss benefits aside, it simply makes sense at the most basic level to have border traffic be as seamless and quick as possible, no matter the port of entry, particularly in an age where border security is a much more important issue than it used to be.

It is also time for Canada Border Services Agency to again consider 24-hour service. The opening hours of 8 a.m. to midnight at the Aldergrove crossing are a quaint anachronism, dating back to when the community was wholly rural. Having the border open 24 hours a day – like South Surrey and Sumas crossings – would offer even more service to travellers.

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