Bellingham businesses suffering as U.S. and Canada border remains closed

Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, Washington. Google Maps

Bellingham businesses say they can’t wait for the border to re-open with Canada to bring back those much-needed B.C. shoppers.

Don Goldberg, the Port of Bellingham and Whatcom County director of economic development, told Global News so many of the shops just across the border depend on that Canadian traffic.

“Businesses have suffered quite a bit,” he said. “The county receives almost 12 per cent of its sales tax from Canadians coming down here to buy.”

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Goldberg said the communities and businesses just across the border have been hit doubly hard, both by the border closure and COVID‘s effect on the economy.

“The cities that have been hurt the worst is Blaine and Sumas, with Blaine being number one,” he added.

B.C. Premier John Horgan says premiers have been working on a plan to restart travel between the United States and Canada.

Goldberg said they hear a lot of rumours as to when the border will reopen but nothing has been confirmed by any officials.

“It’s very difficult to get either side of the border to make any commitments and I think that’s because I think they don’t have them from their governments,” Goldberg added.

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Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Horgan mentioned the “casual” conversations that are taking place.

The decision to reopen the border is ultimately up to the federal government but, as with so many things during the COVID-19 pandemic, it requires collaboration with the provinces.

The border has been closed for all but essential travel since March 2020 and is closed until at least June 21.

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