Rising loonie drives Manitobans to U.S.

The rising value of the loonie is driving Manitoba shoppers to look for bargains in the United States.

The rising value of the loonie is driving Manitoba shoppers to look for bargains in the United States.

In June, traffic heading to the United States climbed to more than 18,000 vehicles, a jump of nine per cent over the same month a year ago, officials said.

Not surprisingly, that has resulted in longer lineups at border crossings.

But not all of those drivers are heading to border cities to buy goods. Some are on their way to pick up mail-order or internet purchases at American parcel service companies, reducing costs such as brokerage fees.

Drive safely

Highway fatalities in 2011 will be among the highest ever recorded in Manitoba, RCMP say, and they are pleading with drivers to take things easy over the long weekend.

This year 71 fatal crashes have already been recorded, the Mounties say, compared with 73 for all of 2010.

RCMP are pleading with drivers to to keep speeds down and avoid driving after drinking.

The savings can be tremendous, stock car racer Mike Balcaen told CBC News as he picked up a shipment of shock absorbers at a parcel service in Pembina, N.D. 

"To ship them here it was $21.82, and had I shipped them into Canada it would've been three-, four-times that amount," he said.

Kris Wilwand, who operates the parcel service in Pembina, says business has been brisk since the Canadian dollar began climbing, and his location makes it convenient.

"Well, we're only like a mile and a half from the Canadian border, so it's really easy going back and forth — pick up their package and going back in Winnipeg," Wilwand told CBC News.

The Canadian dollar is currently worth about 1.05 US.