KETCHIKAN — After more than two months of limited access to services in Canada, Hyder residents will once again be able to cross the border at any hour.
The gate has been raised on the lone road between Hyder and Stewart, British Columbia. It had been temporarily closing from midnight until 8 a.m. as part of a Canada Border Services Agency cost-cutting measure, reported the Ketchikan Daily News.
The change had restricted Alaskans’ access to emergency medical care and officials in both countries say it had the potential to disrupt residents’ lives.
Hyder is about 2 miles away from Stewart, where the region’s only hospital is located.
In May, officials announced plans to reopen the gate. At night, there will be unrestricted access for travelers entering the U.S. Travelers going from the U.S. to Canada are required to check in with CBSA using a phone at the crossing.
“I think this is a positive (thing), and this policy that has been established with minimal compromise to those moving across the border,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said Monday.
“We’re also continuing to monitor this and assessing this pilot (program) to see if this merits a different type of system that would be even less obtrusive but a little more costly,” she said. “That analysis will go forward, but in the meantime it’s fair to say the border it opened and we have a good result.”
Murkowski said Hyder, which depends on revenue from tourists, would have been negatively affected by the restricted access since many tourists stay in Stewart and cross to Hyder in the early morning.
State Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, said in a Monday that he’s “very gratified” the situation has been resolved. Ortiz traveled to Hyder twice after the closing was announced to help find a solution.