MEDICINE HAT, Alberta — Politicians and business leaders from southeastern Alberta will travel to Montana for a meeting Tuesday on getting a 24-hour border crossing opened.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg, who represents Medicine Hat, says the region is suffering economically because it doesn't have a 24-hour crossing.
Solberg will be part of the group heading to Havre to discuss ways to get the Wildhorse Border Crossing open around the clock.
The Alberta legislature unanimously passed a resolution in April calling on Canada's federal government to have the crossing operate full time.
Last November, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official rejected a proposal to establish a 24-hour border crossing at the Port of Wild Horse.
In a letter to Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Thaddeus Bingel said the lack of traffic at the port, along with necessary changes that would have to be implemented, stand in the way of changing the port's hours of operation.
Bingel is the assistant commissioner of the agency's Office of Congressional Affairs.
Harold Wilson, of the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Alberta, says now that local officials are on board, it's time for everyone on both sides of the border to pressure their federal governments to get the job done.
Solberg said a better border crossing would encourage more use of Highway 41 as a north-south corridor.
"The east unfairly languishes, in part, because we don't have that 24-hour crossing," Solberg said. "If you think about it, anybody coming up to Alberta from the eastern U.S. would much more logically use the crossing at Wildhorse than they would at Coutts," which is a 24-hour crossing.
The process of getting a 24-hour crossing began two years ago when Havre Mayor Bob Rice and Havre Chamber of Commerce representatives visited Medicine Hat looking for support in their attempt to get the U.S. government to agree to the idea.
Len Mitzel, who represents Cypress-Medicine Hat in the Alberta legislature, Medicine Hat Mayor Garth Vallely and Cypress County Reeve Jack Osadczuk will accompany Solberg on the trip.