Canada's Border Services Agency (CBSA) shut down three checkpoints along the U.S. border as part of cost-cutting measures Friday.
The agency is also slashing the hours of operation of three other crossing points along the Quebec-Vermont border and reducing personnel.
Two of the border crossings closed are also in Quebec, while the third is in Saskatchewan.
The cuts are part of the CBSA's strategic review, which determined that the volume of traffic along the closed and reduced checkpoints do not jusitfy the expense of keeping them open.
The agency estimated it will save $2.35 million a year by no longer running the checkpoints.
Residents rallied against the reduced hours for three crossings, and a petition asking for a reversal of the decision gathered 200 signatures.
"The less human personnel you have controlling the border, the less adequate border protection," said Pierre Pelland, the mayor of Sutton, in Quebec's Eastern Townships.
A recently unclassified report drafted by the Integrated Border Enforcement Team, comprised of law enforcement officials on both sides of the border, concluded that the unguarded roads between Quebec and the U.S. are a haven for organized crime, drug trafficking and human smuggling.
It stated that the roads "can be viewed in open sources such as Google and Yahoo maps" and that "even when one of these unguarded roads was blocked off in the Champlain region in November 2008, illegal immigration incidents continued."
Canada's Border Services Agency said it will install barriers and cameras at the former checkpoints to deter illegal migrants from crossing the border.
Public Security Minister, Vic Toews, told the House of Commons that one of the closed border crossings, Jameson's Line, sees an average of 12 travellers a day, and that there is another port of entry 10 km away.
The CBSA identified better ways to meet its mandate, said Toews in a written statement to the CBC.
- Franklin Centre, Que.
- Jameson's Line, Que.
- Big Beaver, Sask.
Reduced Hours (open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., formerly open until midnight):
- Morses Lines, Que.
- East Pinnacle, Que.
- Glen Sutton, Que.