Vancouver Island boating industry calling for clarity on marine borders amid reopen

Vancouver Island boating industry calling for clarity on marine borders amid reopen
WatchBoaters, businesses, and marinas are all waiting to find out what the re-open means for ocean travel. Kori Sidaway has more.

The pandemic border restrictions have the docks in Victoria’s the quietest they’ve ever been for the second summer in a row.

“In the summertime this would have been full, packed with boats,” said Anne Louise Bradshaw who lives onboard, mooring her boat in Victoria’s Causeway Marina.

For a total of 16 months because of COVID-19, the only boats tying up here have been Canadian.

“Usually about 85 per cent of our boaters are American,” said Brian Cant, communications director with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

So when there was movement Monday on reopening the U.S.-Canadian border, the pent up demand came flooding through.

“No less than five minutes later we started receiving phone calls from American boaters, wondering if they can book reservations,” said Cant.

Right now the Harbour Authority says it is holding off accepting reservations until given the explicit green light from border services.

Meanwhile, businesses like Black Ball Ferry Lines, the Coho Ferry’s operator, are looking for more information too.

“All we want is to get clarity and have a better understanding of what lies ahead of us,” said Ryan Burles, president of Black Ball Ferry Lines.

Canada Border Services Agency confirmed to CHEK News fully vaccinated marine travellers of any kind will be accepted in Canada as of Aug. 9.

“They must also meet all other criteria, including the pre-entry test requirement and the need to submit information electronically through ArriveCAN before or when entering Canada,” said Canada Border Services Agency in a statement.

American mariners will be will also be eligible for ‘eased quarantine and testing requirements’.

Canada Border Services Agency says more information about entry requirements in the marine mode will be made available before Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, companies like The Clipper are starting to hire back hundreds of laid-off workers for only a portion of their guests.

“The majority of our source market is from the U.S, they make up 85 per cent of our business,” said David Gudgel, CEO of Clipper Vacations. “So while we’d love to have our Canadian friends join us, that wouldn’t preclude us from operating.”

And while many people on both sides of the border can’t wait for things to re-open, a complication could be coming.

Border services officers, without a contract since June 2018, are voting whether or not to strike this week.

They’re calling for better protection against harassment and discrimination. The results from the union vote are expected early next week.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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