The Huntingdon-Sumas border crossing has become significantly less busy in recent years as the Canadian loonie has failed to keep pace with the American dollar.
In 2016, 1.5 million people in personal vehicles entered Canada through the crossing, a 9.4 per cent drop from 2015, according to numbers obtained from the Canada Border Services Agency. There was a similar recorded drop in the number of people headed the other way, according to U.S. figures.
A similar drop in crossings was seen in the four other Lower Mainland border crossings, which saw a region-wide six-per-cent drop in the number of people entering Canada. Last year, 11.3 million travellers crossed into Canada, down from just over 12 million the previous year.
The figures suggest the drop isn’t new and related to Donald Trump’s presidency. Instead, it seems to have first begun in 2013, when the Canadian dollar started losing ground to its American counterpart.
Sumas Mayor Bob Bromley suggested as much last year when discussing the impact of Trump on business south of the border.
In 2013, when the loonie was near parity, 2.2 million people crossed into the U.S in personal vehicles at Sumas-Huntingdon, according to American figures. Last year, with the loonie worth around 75 US cents, just 1.45 million crossed, a 33 per cent drop.
As fewer people are crossing the border, more of those who do make the journey are doing so alone – and have been for years.
Vehicles crossing into Sumas from Abbotsford had an average occupancy of 1.72 last year. That’s down from 1.77 in 2013 and 2.25 in 2006. Other border crossings have seen commensurate drops, although the Abbotsford site has significantly lower vehicle occupancy rates than busier crossings.