Gregoire, Campbell join forces in border plan
By Pat Grubb
Governor Chris Gregoire, along with British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell intend to visit their countries’ respective capitals, Ottawa and Washington, D.C. to present both federal governments with a joint border action plan.
“With the 2010 Olympics fast approaching, the time is now to tackle some of our border challenges,” said Gregoire. “We need secure borders. We also need a system in place that allows traffic to cross the border safely and quickly if we want to continue to promote trade and tourism.”
The agreement signed June 20 by B.C. and Washington will see the province and state work together and engage with the federal governments for action on several key areas:
• Action on border infrastructure and operations:
• Ensure that 10 booths are available on the U.S. side at Peace Arch for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games;
• Ensure adequate staffing of the four Cascade border crossings, especially during the 2010 Olympics and upgrading of Peace Arch;
• Action on border waits and processing – improve infrastructure and upgrade secure RFID readers to support NEXUS, FAST and Enhanced Drivers Licences;
• Action to increase use of NEXUS and FAST – marketing to frequent border crossers in the Lower Mainland and Puget Sound areas in partnership with the business community, tourism industry, and regional organizations;
• Action on the Enhanced Driver’s License program – increase promotion, practical support, and consider Enhanced Drivers Licences as a valid document for Canada-U.S. air travel;
• Action to reduce emissions at the border – develop a joint anti-idling program and improve communication on wait times and line-up conditions for border crossings to help drivers make informed decisions about where and when to travel;
• Action on compatibility of cross border communications – ensure first responders can communicate effectively in emergency situations on both sides of the B.C.-Washington border and harmonize communication systems.
A spokesperson for governor Gregoire’s office was unable to say when the trip would take place.