Construction on a new Rykerts port of entry facility will begin in 2017, Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks announced today on behalf of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney.
Wilks told Canadian Border Services Agency representatives and Creston Valley elected officials that $37.5 million would be used to improve infrastructure in B.C., including the Kootenays’ Rykerts and Waneta border crossings. (The Rykerts crossing’s portion will be released after contracts are awarded.)
“This facility has been in place since 1972 and has worked well for the last 43 years,” said Wilks. “But it’s time for some TLC.”
In addition to the general office space, the facility south of Creston has kitchen, washroom and locker facilities for staff, as well as a holding cell and upstairs storage. But it was built for only four CBSA officers, and now has eight full-time officers and a superintendent, as well as additional support staff in the busier summer months.
The border crossing upgrade was welcome news to elected officials, including Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie, who appreciated the invitation to the announcement — a similar invitation likely wasn’t extended when the building opened.
“We’ve worked together to progress as a country,” Louie said. “We are an equal government and looked at as a legitimate government by the CBSA.”
With 270,085 travellers crossing in 2014-15 and 276, 398 in 2013-14, the new facility — to be built with a modular design — will help to keep traffic flowing between Canada and the U.S.
“It gives the opportunity for business to keep moving out of Creston, and also for Creston,” said Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director Tanya Wall. “This is one of our most beautiful areas and a great opportunity for a new building.”
RDCK Area C director Larry Binks added that he was pleased with the investment in the Creston Valley, and noted that rural communities often feel left out of government funding.
“Thank the minister and prime minster spreading that around,” he told Wilks.
The investment is part of $440 million announced in November 2014 to replace aging ports of entry across the country, part of the CBSA’s efforts toward modernization.
“Improvements to port of entry facilities help ensure the free flow of legitimate travel and trade across Canadian borders,” said Blaney in a press release. “Our commitment to invest $440 million in border infrastructure to modernize port of entry demonstrates our government’s ongoing commitment to the safety and prosperity of our country.”
The $440 million is in addition to the $241 million already invested by the federal government to expand and modernize ports of entry over the last five years. The Kingsgate port of entry south of Yahk received a $16.3 million expansion a few years ago, with the new facility opening in March 2012.