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Saturday, June 21, 2008

B.C., Washington state draft border crossing plan in advance of 2010 Olympics

KELOWNA, B.C. - B.C. and Washington state have signed an agreement to streamline cross-border travel in advance of the 2010 Olympics, and plan to take it to Ottawa and Washington D.C. to get federal approvals.

The deal came during a joint meeting of the provincial and state cabinets in Kelowna, B.C., attended by Premier Gordon Campbell and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Under the agreement, B.C. and Washington will work on efforts to speed up border crossing times with extra staff, expanded inspection booths and new technology, including using enhanced driver's licences embedded with computer chips.

The province and state say they'll also work toward having the new driver's licences accepted by the federal governments as a valid document for Canada-U.S. air travel.

Other parts of the agreement call for action to reduce auto pollution at the border, including a joint anti-idling program, and efforts to ensure better communications between emergency crews on both sides of the border.

Gov. Gregoire says she's pleased with the progress the state and province have made, but there's more work to do and they need the co-operation of both federal governments to finish what's been started.

© The Canadian Press, 2008



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