On March 18 Bernice Whalen and her husband Francis woke up to the news that the U.S./Canadian border was closed to non-essential travel, a move that although reviewed monthly will now sees the closing in effect until at least Oct. 21.
The closing had the support of the Whalens because it was done because of the pandemic, but they objected that the closure came with no warning..
This had put them in a bind because it meant they were not able to board up the cottage in Brimley, Michigan, the family has owned for 42 years.
“What we vehemently object to is that there was no lead-in time allowing for property owners to properly secure their cottages as one would for any crisis,” Bernice said.
She said news reports indicated hat by Sept. 4, four million foreigners or Canadians had entered the United States by land or air since March 18.
The Whalens and others in a similar position weren’t among them.
They believe this leads to an ongoing inequity which seems to be occurring by the narrow definition of the word essential;
“What we are requesting is a one-day, 18-mile trip directly to our camp to board windows and to return our travel trailer home so we can enjoy a fall outing in our beautiful woods,” she said. “This new trailer is parked in front of our camp and although declared has never been used.”
Bernice said she had written Premier Doug Ford’s office but had gotten no response and although Sault MP Terry Sheehan said he would supply a list of U.S. officials to whom she might appeal for a one-day pass for essential travel, such a list has still not arrived.
“I am not seeking a cross-border shopping trip (or holiday time),” she said in her original letter to Sheehan. “My intent is to check on our property (and board it up) as this pandemic will extend another year or two. We have thousands and thousands of dollars invested in our cottage. We are more than willing to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.”
She said she was given some “sage advice” as to how she could circumvent the closing.
Since travel by air is not limited, she was told they could fly to Toronto, then to Detroit, then to Kincheloe, from where they could take a cab to their cottage.
The Whalens say they find it frustrating because they know people living in the Sault who have travelled back and forth all summer because a spouse has dual citizenship.
“Having an American spouse provides an automatic ticket past the border. Is this equity?” Bernice asks. “I have witnessed American families happily joining together for a holiday with mothers, fathers, siblings. Why is this essential and protecting our life’s investments is not? One lady I know is travelling to Florida with her husband to close off their American snowbird residence. How did they obtain permission? It is the dual citizenship loophole again as the wife kept this when she married a Canadian. I empathize as I too want to protect our investment. My issue again is one of equity.”
In her email to me, Bernice also included some information from Moyra O’Pallie, a Sault resident who also owns property in Brimley.
Moyra said pleas to be able to check on this property has fallen on deaf ears, even though a one-day pass is all that would be required.
As you know from my writings here, I am fully in favour of keeping the border closed because the Americans don’t seem willing to even attempt to get the coronavirus under control.
But considering that there are so many exemptions allowing some people to freely travel across the border, by land as well as by air, I believe a way should be found to accommodate the Whalens and O’Pallies, as well as others who find themselves in similar situations..
After all, all they are asking for is one day with self-quarantine to follow.
As for those with dual citizenship, I believe for the safety of us all they should have to decide on which side of the border they will reside.
I BLAMED THE TRAFFIC people for the screw-up with the lanes at the intersection of Albert and East Streets because they allowed a mistake by the line painters from Guelph to stand.
But it was engineers who screwed up in taking out the right-turn lane where Bruce Street meets Queen Street and I think I have to point my finger at them again for the latest screw-up on McNabb Street.
Redone between Great Northern Road and Algoma Avenue last year, new traffic lanes now adorn the area.
Remember how for many years you travelled in the curb lane past Canadian Tire, crossed Great Northern Road and then carried on in the curb lane to St. George’s Avenue, where any traffic from the inside lane would have to attempt a merge.
Well, things have changed, and not for the better.
Now, instead of carrying on through to St. George’s, traffic in the curb lane is instructed to turn right at Elmwood Avenue.
Traffic on the inside lane is then given the right of way, the lanes directing it into the curb lane.
I was alerted to this shemozzle by an item, accompanied by a photo, on Facebook. People there couldn’t believe it.
I checked it out and couldn’t believe it either, seeing the danger that resulted from the vehicle in front of me ignoring the turn message..
Will it be changed? I doubt it. The powers that be in this city department aren’t really known for acknowledging screw-ups.
And your city councillors are too busy spending taxpayer money to get involved in picayune affairs like this one.
So what are we left with?
I would say just continued cursing as we navigate what shouldn’t be.