U.S.-bound shoppers slow border traffic

Emerson, Man., reported the longest border-crossing wait times on Saturday for Canadian drivers entering the U.S. to spend loonies that now have more buying power.

While many Canadians arestaying home for Thanksgiving weekend, others are more interested in cross-border shopping trips — and the extra traffic in some locations has meant longer wait times to enter the United States.

Vehicles wait to cross the border at Emerson, Man., on Saturday. ((CBC))
The longest delays on Saturday of any border crossing in Canada were at Emerson, Man. The estimated wait time for a vehicle trying to reach an inspection booth before entering North Dakota was 3½ hours at its peak, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

That's probably becausemoreCanadians appear to betakingadvantage of their new buying power south of the border, an agency spokeswoman said.

Canada's currency closed the week at just under 1.02 US, gainingagainst the U.S. dollar in foreign exchange tradingFriday on news of strong Canadian job growth in September.

The loonie rose more than a cent and a half to reach a new 31-year closing high of $1.0185 US, the biggest one-day gain against the U.S. currency since June 1, 1970 — when the Canadian dollar was permitted to float.

By the afternoon, wait times had dropped to about an hour at Emerson, across the border from Pembina, N.D., said Loretta Nyhus of the Canadian Border Services Agency in Winnipeg. She said people in the Manitoba communitywere probably making more same-day visitsbecause of the proximity to U.S. shopping centres.

OtherSaturday morning wait times for U.S.-boundvehicle traffic:

  • Three hours at the Pacific Highway crossing, linking Surrey, B.C., to Blaine, Wa.
  • Two hours, 30 minutes at Cornwall, Ont., to Rooseveltown, N.Y.
  • Two hours, 30 minutes at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., to Champlain, N.Y.
  • One hour, 45 minutes at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, linking Sarnia, Ont., to Port Huron, Mich.
  • One hour at the tunnel linking Windsor, Ont., to Detroit.

Nyhussaid extra border staff will be working this holidayweekend at places like Emerson to handle the increase in traffic.

"What goes in one direction has to come back," she said. "And we expect long lineups for people returning to Canada Saturday night, Sunday and into Monday."

Mostborder officials were reporting minimal or no delays crossing into Canada from the U.S.