Havre Daily News
The Alberta Legislative Assembly has passed a resolution calling for the 24-hour operation of the Wild Horse port and called for the expansion of the roadway leading from the Montana border to Medicine Hat, Alberta, to a four-lane major highway.
Medicine Hat legislator Leonard Mitzel submitted a report to the assembly this month calling for the expansion of the roadway and port operations for the economic benefit of Alberta.
Havre city officials and members of the local business community have long pushed for round-the-clock operations at Wild Horse.
U.S. officials have said that the federal government would need cooperation from Canadian authorities before the port's hours could be changed.
Mitzel wrote that, due to the trade Alberta's oil and gas industry does with the United States, there is a need for an additional 24-hour border crossing. Mitzel outlined the reasons why Wild Horse was the port Canadians should choose.
Traffic numbers at the port would increase if the hours at Wild Horse were extended, Mitzel wrote.
Mitzel's report said the total traffic volume could increase in Alberta by 3.5 percent per year, and over the next 10 years could increase by up to 40 percent. The report said the economic growth evident in the province was shown in the increased registration of of heavy trucks. In the last 10 years, registration has increased by 270 percent, it said.
Mitzel said the majority of Highway 41, which leads north from Wild Horse to Medicine Hat, is classified as a major two-lane highway. The areas classified as a low-volume, minor two-lane highway would need to be improved, he added.
The Palliser Economic Partnership, a non-profit Canadian company which has membership in 15 communities in southeastern Alberta is in support of the opening of the border 24 hours, Mitzel wrote. The company advocates expanding port operations in order to develop Alberta's economy.
Mitzel wrote the numbers in trade would support the port's operations.
“Alberta exported approximately $255 billion of products to the United States. Alberta also imported approximately $48 billon of products from the United Sates,” he said.
Mitzel wrote that another reason for the opening of a 24-hour border crossing is the potential to attract other truck traffic that otherwise crosses the border in Saskatchewan. Also, Mitzel wrote, the companies that typically pass up opportunities to invest in Medicine Hat and surrounding areas may be enticed to develop business in the area should the crossing be opened.
In November, a federal Department of Homeland Security official said, in a letter to U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., that there isn't enough traffic crossing at Wild Horse to warrant 24-hour operations.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice has said he will continue to pursue round-the-clock operations.
From May 15 to Sept. 30, the port is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. During the rest of the year, it is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.