Hi, Stewart? It’s me, Hyder.
It’s official. The border between Stewart, B.C. and Hyder, Alaska will once again be passable overnight with Canada’s border services agency confirming today that a phone reporting system will be in use at the crossing within the next several weeks.
The border between the two tiny towns has been closed with a locked gate between midnight and 8 a.m. since April 1. The move, cited by authorities as a cost-cutting measure, was heavily criticized by residents and officials on both sides of the border and pressure has been mounting on the federal government to reverse the decision.
And while it’s not a full reversal, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in a statement today that a pilot telephone reporting system is expected to begin June 22 and would allow 24-access between the communities.
The pilot project will “assess if a telephone reporting system will meet the unique needs of its surrounding community outside of operating hours,” said the statement.
“The success of the telephone reporting system is dependent on the compliance of its users, and will be evaluated to determine its effectiveness in facilitating travel while managing risk,” said the statement. “This will help the CBSA determine whether the telephone reporting system is viable for longer term implementation.”
Today’s announcement builds on statements made last week indicating that the CBSA, after hearing from the communities and others over the last two months, was looking at “alternate delivery options” to restore access between the two towns.
There is currently a 24-hour emergency phone installed at the crossing that enables individuals to speak with a CBSA officer to gain access to the gates if they need medical attention – residents of Hyder rely on Stewart for medical services.