A Task Force On Border Reopening

We have a new “task force” to determine when and how the Canada/US Border may reopen. Given the ability of the Canadian government to act, we could be another year or two before the border reopens.

Here is a video overview of the task force:

The border between Canada and the United States has been closed to “nonessential, noncommercial” traffic since March in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The task force on border reopening was organized by the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

I’d never heard of the place before.

Here is their mandate:

Bound by common geopolitical interests and strong economic and cultural ties, Canada and the United States enjoy the world’s most successful bilateral relationship. The Wilson Center’s Canada Institute is the only public policy forum in the world dedicated to the full spectrum of Canada-U.S. issues. The Canada Institute is a global leader for policymakers, academics and business leaders to engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the current and future state of the relationship.

The task force will engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the reopening of the border. It is a small group which includes former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Anne McLellan, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and former Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington. They will provide recommendations to the US and Canadian governments.

Charest has already gone on record to highlight the major issues and questions for the task force:

  • Will travellers need to be vaccinated to cross the border?
  • Will travellers need to produce a health certificate?
  • Will travellers have to undergo COVID testing at the border?

If a vaccination is required, I highly doubt that we will be crossing into the states in November of 2021. I doubt that a majority of the Canadian population will have received a vaccination by the end of 2021.

To be honest, I’m not all that sure I want to be first in line to get the injections.

The earliest this panel will deliver their recommendations will be March of 2021. Given the capacity of our government to act on the recommendations, I don’t see anything moving too quickly before the fall.

I expect reopening will hinge on the arrival of widely-distributed vaccines.

I expect we will spend at least another winter in Canada.

Myakka River Motorcoach Resort Site 90

Our home away from home. Until COVID came along. And then we were forced to seek out alternative living arrangements for the winter. Depending on the course of this pandemic, we might be forced to seek out alternative living arrangements again next winter.

We have a beautiful waterfront house to enjoy until the spring. November ushered in summer-like conditions. Last week, we had temperatures in the 20s — in the 70s Fahrenheit for my American friends.

The view from our back deck:

Then winter decided to show up yesterday.

The temperatures plummeted to -5 Celsius or in the low 20s Fahrenheit.

Yet it was a beautiful morning when I took that photo. I decided to step outside and take it all in.

Yikes.

Frozen.

In just a few seconds I raced back into the warm house.

I miss Myakka. I miss the sun. The palm trees. The warm weather.

This year I missed the two hurricanes that hit our area in Florida, Eta and Iota. Literally missed them. I was up north enjoying the unseasonably warm weather in Ontario. I hope all of our friends at Myakka made it through those two storms safely.

Yesterday we received a package from one of our friends at Myakka. It included this note:

Richard and Lorraine,

We hope this finds you well. We know you’re unable to travel south this year but wanted to give you a little something that will remind you of Myakka and are able to take it with you wherever your travels may take you.

Take care. God bless. We miss you both and Tabby too.

Rick and Marsha. Izzie too!

Here is a picture of that little something on my desk just to the side of a Canadian coaster:

What a wonderful and thoughtful gift!

At the entrance to each site in Myakka, there is a light and a marker. Shaped just like the carving above.

Site 90.

Our home away from home.

Sigh.

I really do miss Myakka.

And I really do miss all of our amazing friends at Myakka.

COVID-19 And The Canada/US Border

The border closure could extend well into 2021. From the Canadian Snowbirds Association:

As was reported last week, the Canada/U.S. land border will remain closed to all non-essential travel until at least November 21, 2020. Canadian Snowbirds Association representatives continue to discuss the issue of the border closure with government officials and agencies on both sides of the border. Ultimately, based on these discussions, the current travel restrictions at the land border crossings could possibly extend well into 2021. At this time, the only way in which Canadian citizens are permitted to travel to the United States is by air. As many members are inquiring, the reason that this loophole exists is that the U.S. Government only applied the border restrictions to land and ferry crossings while the Canadian Government applied the restriction to all modes of travel.

Based on what I have read and from all of the credible sources I have contacted there is no chance the border reopens this year.

We still had hope that perhaps some form of travel exemption would be considered for Canadian Snowbirds that live full-time in motorhomes. Obviously those hopes are dashed.

Thankfully we had made our plans for storing our coach and finding a nice place to live for the winter months. We did all of that work back in August. We structured our lease agreement such that we could give our notice within 30 days should the border reopen. It turned out to be a good decision on our part to secure storage and housing. Very difficult to find suitable arrangements in this part of Ontario.

Many of our Canadian friends that full-time have elected to remain in Canada either renting a place or heading out west.

Canada is a very hostile place for full-time RVers in the winter. The full-time RV lifestyle up here only makes sense if we can travel south.

Pandemics will pass. Eventually.

But if border closures and lockdowns are going to continue for several years, we may explore different options for how we spend this part of our lives in retirement. We have already been forced off the road this year due to COVID-19. I don’t want to repeat this highly disruptive process again and again.

We will wait and see what happens in the new year before we make any firm decisions.

Time now to go and buy a winter coat, winter gloves, winter boots and a toque. Snow and frigid cold is arriving tomorrow.

The winter apocalypse cometh.

Tabby Is Happy

How has it been so far? Living in a house compared to living in a coach?

So far so good. Helped somewhat by living in a very high-end community by the lake. This is a beautiful spot no doubt.

Living in a quiet area, surrounded by the lake in front and a forest in back, it seems surreal.

I try not to think about the coach.

I have been thinking about buying a house. But that has been true since this pandemic started.

Not sure now is the time.

I am really enjoying this wonderful property. And the space.

Still missing our freedom to travel.

Tabby?

She is having a terrific time.

I’m sure our friends will enjoy this short video of our amazing golden.

Grounded

The coach is now parked at the dealership where it will stay for the next six months. Grounded due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures.

Travel restrictions.

Border closures.

Let’s poke at that a little shall we?

More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March but less than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine — the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from the requirement.

The Canada Border Services Agency provides data each week on the number of people arriving in Canada by land or air, saying “most” people entering the country must quarantine for two weeks.

Of the 4.6 million people that crossed the border into Canada, 1.1 million people were considered non-essential travellers and ordered to quarantine.

That means less than 25 percent of travellers coming into the country since March were required to quarantine. The rest? Well, COVID-19 apparently does not infect essential travellers. They can come and go as they please.

Many snowbirds in the RV community were hoping that the border closure was temporary and they waited as long as possible before making alternate arrangements.

Some, like ourselves, found temporary housing to sit out the Canadian winter. Others took their rigs west in search of a less severe climate. Which, in Canada, means a few regions in British Columbia, several thousand kilometres from where we are presently situated.

There were a few RVers that decided to leave their coaches behind and fly south. Travel by land is banned, travel by air is not. COVID-19 apparently does not like to fly.

A few tried to arrange for their coaches to be driven south.

It turns out that the process to have a U.S. company drive a coach south is fraught with challenges and we know of several RVers that ultimately gave up on that approach.

We will ride out the Canadian winter in a house and hopefully return to our coach and our retirement dream next year.

We are fortunate.

We have a beautiful property to enjoy until then.