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B.C. agrees to streamline border travel

KELOWNA, B.C. – British Columbia and Washington state signed an agreement Friday to streamline cross-border travel in advance of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The deal came during a meeting of the provincial and state cabinets in Kelowna, attended by British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, who signed on behalf of Gov. Chris Gregoire. It still must be approved by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Under the agreement, the province and state will work to speed border crossing times with extra staff, including an assurance there will be 10 inspection booths on the U.S. side of the border at the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, Wash.

It also re-emphasizes new technology, including using enhanced driver’s licenses embedded with computer chips. The state and province will also work to have the new licenses accepted by the federal governments as a valid document for Canada-U.S. air travel.

Other parts of the agreement call for efforts to reduce auto pollution – such as an “anti-idling” program and a communications system to inform drivers about waiting times at border crossings. It also calls for better cross-border communications between emergency crews.


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