NOTE: The province of B.C. has once again declared a week in February as Chamber of Commerce Week. This year, it runs Feb. 12 to 16, and the Langley Advance Times worked with the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce to put together a series of stories to inform people in Langley about the local business organization and what it does to bolster and advocate for companies in this community.
Otter Co-op CEO and Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce director Jack Nicholson gave a mixed review to plans that could see the Aldergrove border crossing run 24 hours a day, saying it will help move freight, but there will have to be better enforcement of tariffs on cross-border shopping.
“We’ve seen it where people go over there and spend hundreds of dollars and come back within a couple of hours and there’s no check or no duty fees, knowing that’s going to get waved through,” Nicholson noted.
For the co-op, the good news will be an improved ability to get goods across the border.
“We purchase grain, etcetera, from the States when we can’t get enough here in Canada,” Nicholson explained.
“So, we’re happy as a business that [the border] is going to be adding lanes and having 24-hour operation and make it easier for cross-border trade.”
On the downside, the switch to a round-the-clock operation could make it that much easier for people to cross the border, rather than shop local, especially if officers of the Canada Border Services Agency continue to wave through Canadians with purchases, Nicholson told the Langley Advance Times.
Under current regulations, returning residents can bring back, tax and duty free, $200 worth of goods after being away for 24 hours, and up to $800 after 48 hours, but there are no personal exemptions for same-day cross-border shopping trips.
However, most of the time, border officers simply wave those shoppers through, Nicholson said.
“If you are going to go over there and shop, then you should have to follow the rules and pay the duty on the goods that you are buying there,” Nicholson commented.
“Let’s just follow the rules that are there.”
Expanding the capacity of the crossing and increasing its hours of service have been advocacy priorities for the Chamber for many years, which has lobbied local and federal government representatives, and won national support at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, the crossing is operated for 16 hours day, from 8 a.m. to midnight, by the United States Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency, but that is expected to change once the U.S. completes planned upgrades to the land port of entry.
According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which is in charge of upgrading the aging Kenneth G. Ward facility built at the Lynden crossing in 1986, the 16,421 sq-ft building “is no longer able to meet the operational needs of customs and border protection.”
Currently in the planning stages, the estimated $90 to $100 million overhaul will expand the Lynden crossing, offering four lanes for trucks and five for regular vehicles when completed. Kenneth G. Ward currently has one lane for trucks, and four non-commercial lanes.
Plans also call for widening the two-lane road on the U.S. side.
Construction is expected to start in September 2026, with “substantial completion” by November of 2028, the GSA projects.
In 2014, work on a complete overhaul of the Canadian border crossing got underway, adding new buildings, two new commercial lanes and five travel lanes, and the addition of a Nexus line that allows vetted travellers to bypass customs delays.