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This article was published 23/8/2017 (1611 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Canadians will have an easier time going to and from the Northwest Angle, courtesy of a pilot project unveiled this week.
United States Customs and Border Protection has introduced iPads in Northwest Angle resorts to facilitate reporting to customs when travelling between Canada and the U.S.
The Angle is an unmanned border crossing.
Most Canadians enter the Angle by Provincial Road 525 and simply use a customs telephone, called an outlying area reporting station (OARS), to report their arrival.
An individual presses a button with an American flag when entering the U.S., and one with a Canadian flag when entering Canada, to speak to a customs officer.
The iPads will make it easier once at the Angle to go into Canada while fishing or snowmobiling and return to one of about a dozen resorts on the piece of land, which juts out from Manitoba into Lake of the Woods but is a part of Minnesota.
Currently, if you so much as step foot on an island in Canada while staying in the Angle, you have to make a 25-kilometre round trip to report by OARS phone.
"When Canadians would come over in the past, they would have to go all the way to the nearest OARS phone, which can be very inconvenient," said Joe Henry, executive director of Minnesota-based Lake of the Woods Tourism.
Visitors are interviewed by iPad just as they are by an officer who answers an OARS phone.
Henry conceded many people weren’t bothering to report things such as stopping for a shore lunch on an island on Canada’s side.
"It was one of those ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ things," he said.
But customs officers have been threatening to crack down on those not reporting.
The pilot project is an American initiative with Canada’s co-operation.
The Northwest Angle is surrounded by Canada on three sides, and people who work or visit there often cross into Canada for brief stints.
The reporting system could extend to other remote border crossings between Canada and the U.S., or the U.S. and Mexico, in the future.
Canadians most helped by the change will be snowmobilers.
Henry said the number of Canadian snowmobilers visiting the Angle has dropped in recent years.
The pilot project removes an obstacle to getting that traffic to return, he said.
The OARS phones, including the one on Highway 525, are also expected to be replaced by iPads this fall.
As well, an app will soon be introduced so people can report to customs with their smartphones.
A historic surveying error gave the U.S. the Northwest Angle, the only part of that country north of the 49th parallel except for Alaska.