At the moment, the Kingsgate port of entry isn’t the most welcoming sight for visitors or returning Canadians. With construction vehicles kicking up dust and Canada Border Services Agency officers working out of portable buildings, the site is the epitome of organized chaos — but it won’t be that way much longer.
The 15-month, $16.3 million expansion is scheduled for completion on March 31 — with paving to be completed by Oct. 19 — and will not only increase the main structure’s size, but also increase efficiency for a border that sees a great deal of traffic.
“We get a lot of commercial use,” said Kingsgate Supt. Brad Berdusco. “Every-thing from the west coast of the U.S. going to Edmonton, Calgary or Fort McMurray comes through here.”
From Aug. 31, 2010-Aug. 31, 2011, the Kingsgate port of entry, south of Yahk, processed 97,696 cars and 47,346 commercial trucks northbound into Canada, whereas the Rykerts crossing, just south of Creston, processed 158,260 cars and 8,105 northbound commercial trucks.
As the major commercial crossing along the eastern B.C. border with the U.S., Kingsgate serves as a hub, and a new building at the site will enable equipment service for crossings from Paterson (near Rossland) to Roosville (south of Jaffary).
A new commercial facility has offices, and training and meeting rooms, but also space that “allows us to completely offload one or two commercial vehicles,” said project liaison Melinda Medland, also superintendent of the Rykerts port of entry south of Creston, who gave media a tour of the project last week.
But the biggest attraction is the new main building, which has a footprint four times the size of the previous brick building built in the 1950s, which itself replaces a log building from the 1930s. Along a former First Nations trading trail, Kingsgate became an official border crossing around the turn of the 20th century.
The 1950s port of entry building, which was torn down in January, had only two lanes, one of which could be used by a commercial vehicle. Its replacement has three lanes, all of which can fit vehicles of all sizes. The back portion of the building is a secure area, which allows for detention and personal searches.
A large covered area at the building’s north end allows shelter for secondary searches, and for travellers to park for examination, or to pay taxes or duties. Just beyond that is a tertiary garage for holding vehicles
CBSA officers at Kingsgate are noticeably excited when talking about the expansion — and it will be ready to use before they know it.
“Construction has gone so quickly,” said Medland.