Customs glitches being worked out

In its first month of operation, a truck tore off a piece of a booth and some cars slipped past the checkpoint.
But Greg Mercure, chief of operations for the new Canada Customs and Immigration facility here said officers are on top of these issues, and the building is a work in progress.
One of the biggest concerns about the new facility, which officially opened Feb. 14, is the fact vehicles can drive through a space between the temporary barriers—left clear for the train tracks—and avoid checking in at Customs altogether.
“The first week there was, I guess, a couple of confused travellers, people who weren’t familiar with the area,” Mercure noted Monday.
“One of the signs had an arrow that could be interpreted that you go straight instead of curving,” he said. “We changed some signage and it seems to have rectified it somewhat.”
But Mercure also said they’ve been looking into the issue and will come up with a solution when more permanent barriers are installed this spring.
“We’re going to be looking at some kind of control mechanism at the tracks,” he said, adding Customs officials from Ottawa had been down last week to review the problem.
As for the security risk, Mercure said Customs staff are keeping a close watch on the area. “It’s all fully monitored with cameras and sensors,” he stressed.
People driving over the railroad tracks and not checking in at Customs wasn’t the only glitch officers had to deal with in their first month at the new facility.
A week after moving into the building, a truck tore off a piece of the custom-made truck booth.
Wayne Wilton, senior project engineer with Abitibi-Consolidated here, wouldn’t say how much repairs to the booth would cost.
“We have parts on order for it,” he noted. “We should have it repaired shortly but we don’t have the parts yet.”
A corner of the booth currently is being held together with duct tape.
“We’re going to install some protective ballards on the corner to prevent it from happening again,” Wilton said, adding concrete poles will be placed on the outside edge of the booth.
“[Trucks] won’t be able to run into the building, they’ll run into the ballard.”
Last week, officers also noticed one of the windows in the main booth cracked for no apparent reason. But Mercure said these are all par for the course.
“We’re a work in progress,” he reasoned.
As for trucks being able to make it through the checkpoint, Mercure said no one else seems to have had a problem.
“When that truck hit that booth, it’s just like when you buy a new car and get that first scratch in it,” he said. “It’s kind of disappointing but things like that are going to happen and Abitibi’s great about dealing with those things.”