The border at North Portal started construction at the end of last month and is doing well so far.
"It's been really good, all of the people involved have really worked well together. I feel that CBSA and the village have a really great communication line set up, when problems arise we are able to work through them step by step. I feel at this point because the working relationship is so good, we'll be able to proceed well," stated Lindsay Davis the Administrator of North Portal.
"With the heavy rainfall and now with this storm, it kinda makes a big mess when they're doing the excavation work, so that's something they will be dealing with."
The Canadian Border Crossing has been busy with getting the construction work underway.
"Our work has been good so far with crews mobilizing on site, we're marking off power, natural gas and telephone lines. They conducted a final survey of property lines, drained water from low lying areas, which might be full again now. So far this month crews have been decommissioning and removing residual structures and systems from former residences, working out the location of the new toll booths and stripping topsoil from the building site. So it's an exciting time of getting shovels in the ground and looking forward to what the project will be," shared Luke Reimer with the Canadian Border Services Agency.
"One of the first things we did was engage with the village of North Portal, council is well aware of the project details and we've committed to open communication throughout the construction process. We've also engaged with other partners including the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure. We went to town hall for residence on May 9th for any questions about the project and we just want to be as open and transparent as possible while this construction is ongoing."
"The North Portal Border crossing project will enhance the border experience for all travelers at North Portal. There are a few different things, one of them is increasing the throughput capacity of the port of entry by adding a 3rd processing lane, right now there are 2. It will construct a new and taller canopy and stagger 3 bi level primary inspection line booths to better stream line traffic flow in the processing of traveler and commercial trucks," Reimer explained.
"Another component is renovating and expanding the commercial warehouse for more efficient processing. The new facility will feature a drive through bay, 2 unloading bays and also increase the parking area to accommodate 12 trucks at one time, right now the parking area can accommodate 8 trucks at a time. Additionally it will improve sight landing and systems for safety and security and we'll see the installation of solar panels which will provide power to part of the new facility using renewable energy."
"North portal is actually the busiest land border crossing in Saskatchewan and ranks 10th in the number of commercial trucks processed across Canada last year. It's a major transportation corridor and travel and economic gateway. This project will maximize our processing efficiency and ensure the border structure is designed to accommodate high traffic volumes during our travel times."
"We're excited about it and North Portal will remain open 24/7. Our goal is to keep separate traffic lanes open for traveler and commercial traffic as efficiently as possible. There is the potential of delays during the peak of construction, so we just ask people to be understanding of that," he expressed.
Construction for the border crossing started last month and Reimer said that they anticipate construction will take between 18 and 30 months, which is sometime within the next 2 and a half years.
"Our commercial traffic volumes have increased but the CBSA facility hasn't been significantly upgraded at North Portal since the 1980's and in 2017 the total value of Canadian imports and exports that were destined for and originating from Saskatchewan was 40.5 billion dollars. One of our goals here is by expanding our capacity at North Portal we hope to facilitate even more growth and prosperity for Canadians."
Looking at the cost of the project and including the demolition consultation for the construction, CBSA estimates that it will be approximately 15 and a half million dollars.
"Over the past 5 years officers at North Portal have processed an average of 802 travelers, 215 cars and 315 commercial trucks everyday. This is just some more context as to why this project is so important, because North Portal is such an important border crossing, especially here in Saskatchewan."
Photo Courtesy: CBSA