Canada will fully mirror Wild Horse summer hours

Havre Daily News

by Tim Leeds

Following nearly a month of concern and speculation, one problematic issue in expanding the hours at the Port of Wild Horse north of Havre has been resolved.

Sen. Jon Tester, meeting in Have with officials and activists from both sides of the border with Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin, said that the Canadian Border Services Agency will fully mirror extended hours at the port for commercial traffic.

After reading a letter from Luc Portelance, president of CBSA, announcing the change, Tester thanked Portelance and his representative at the meeting, Kevin Hewson, director of CBSA’s Southern Alberta District, for the change.

“It is critically important as we go toward maintaining security while we take advantage of economic opportunities, ” Tester said.

After Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Bersin announced last fall in Havre that the summer hours at the port would be extended, Canada, at first did not match the extended hours, pushed from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31 on the U.S. side.

Canada Border Services Agency later announced it would match the extension this year, keeping the port open from 8 a. m. to 9 p. m. March 1 through Oct. 31, rather than the normal May 15 through Sept. 30.

After the extended hours began, elected officials and the members of the group working for extended hours found that would not apply to commercial traffic. The decision announced today reverses that.

Several people at the meeting, including Bear Paw Development Corp. Executive Director Paul Tuss, Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Vandeberg, and Len Mitzel, member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta, and Havre Mayor Tim Solomon expressed appreciation.

“I guess our only concern really came when the Canadian side (didn’t match the commercial hours), but I guess that’s pretty much been worked out, ” said Solomon, who also co-chairs the Wild Horse Border Committee.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., applauded the announcement, with a warning included.

“This is good news, because more traffic through the Port of Wild Horse will mean more Montana jobs, ” Baucus told the Havre Daily News this morning. “While I’m pleased that Canada has agreed to match expanded hours at the port, I’m not pleased with the delays leading up to today’s decision.

“I will continue to monitor the situation to make sure the extended hours at the Port of Wild Horse give folks along the Hi-Line a true opportunity to reap the full economic potential of the pilot program, ” Baucus added.