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Hours cut at border crossings

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 11/8/2018 10:00 AM

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Evening hours of operation at three ports of entry will be reduced later this month, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) revealed this week.

Tolstoi, Piney, and South Junction border crossings are affected by the service cuts, which take effect Nov. 26.

Tolstoi, a port offering bilingual service daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., will close at 8 p.m. from Victoria Day through Labour Day, and 6 p.m. the rest of the year, Lisa White, CBSA’s assistant director of communications, said Monday via email.

Piney, currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., will close at 5 p.m. year-round.

South Junction, currently open from 8 a.m. to midnight each day, will close at 8 p.m. year-round.

The CBSA’s Sprague crossing will continue to operate 24/7, White confirmed.

Cumulatively, the service reductions total 77 fewer hours of service per week for summer travellers, and 91 fewer hours per week the remainder of the year.

White said CBSA made its decision following "a comprehensive review of local traffic patterns" at the three smaller ports.

The announcement arrives less than a month after CBSA officials touted the completion of a $19 million expansion project at its 24-hour Emerson port, the province’s busiest.

White noted Tolstoi’s new hours of operation match those applied in January by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to its Lancaster port of entry.

South Junction’s new hours also match those at CBP’s corresponding Roseau, Minn. port.

Provencher MP Ted Falk issued a statement Tuesday decrying the lack of public consultations preceding the agency’s decision.

He encouraged constituents to attend public meetings slated for Nov. 14 at the Piney Community Centre, and Nov. 15 at the Tolstoi Ukrainian National Hall. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.

Falk said the three affected ports "still play a vital role in travel to and from the United States for thousands of residents in southeastern Manitoba," and noted area residents with jobs in Minnesota will be inconvenienced daily by the service reductions.

"A large number of these people work evenings," he noted.

Falk also questioned the impact the cuts will have on RM of Piney residents seeking medical care in Roseau under a unique cross-border health care agreement, and the implications for STARS air ambulance, which uses Piney’s airport.

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