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More shoppers heading south in search of deals

Drivers wait to cross the border from Canada into the U.S. According to figures released by  border service officials, more Canadians are choosing to shop in Washington State, even crossing to pick up groceries and gas. - Black Press file photo
Drivers wait to cross the border from Canada into the U.S. According to figures released by border service officials, more Canadians are choosing to shop in Washington State, even crossing to pick up groceries and gas.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

Cross border shopping is on the rise, and Langley residents are among those who are taking advantage of the close proximity to the U.S. border.

Many Langleyites report that they buy their gas exclusively across the line, while others do a weekly grocery shop in the U.S. to get a better price on cheese, milk and meat.

Prices in the U.S. for certain items like cheese or running shoes can be up to 50 per cent cheaper than in Canada.

In June, Canadian border services officers processed 581,404 travellers, which is an 18 per cent increase compared to the 475,562  travellers processed over the same period last year, said Faith St. John, Canadian Border Service Agency spokesperson.

The increase is also likely due in part to new duty free rules, implemented two months ago.

As of June 1, personal exemption limits increased to $200 from $50 for absences of 24 hours or more and to $800 for absences of 48 hours or more.

However, there are no personal exemptions for same day shopping trips, said St. John.

Langley residents have easy access to four border crossings — at Peace Arch, Pacific Highway, Abbotsford, and Aldergrove.

The increase in B.C. residents shopping in the States has been on the rise for several years, but is spiking even higher lately, also in part because of the strong Canadian dollar.

The B.C. long weekend is a busy one at the borders, with Monday seeing the most traffic.

Last year, 40,000 vehicles came through the local border crossings. In total, around 130,000 vehicles crossed the border on the long weekend.

It’s recommended travelers’ try to plan their return so that they arrive at the border outside peak hours. The best time to arrive is before 5:30 p.m., said CBSA.

Meanwhile, in June, 596 people who tried to enter Canada were turned back at the border, including a couple of Americans with links to gangs.

Last month, border officers made 17 weapons seizures, including two grenades at the Aldergrove crossing on June 18.

Two U.S. residents travelling from Florida to Alaska were stopped and the grenades were discovered in their trailer. As a precaution, a perimeter was set up and the Lower Mainland Explosives Disposal Unit was called in. The pair withdrew their application to enter Canada.

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