Gov. Janet Mills and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs have joined forces to request that the Canada Border Services Agency ease restrictions for Americans looking to play at the 18-hole Aroostook Valley Country Club.
Mills and Higgs co-wrote a letter to Erin O’Gorman, president of the Canada Border Services Agency in Ottawa, Ontario, asking for a solution that will make it easier for Americans to play at the popular 93-year-old course.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Americans couldn’t play the course for nearly two years. Americans must complete a series of steps — including providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination — to access the course. The country club has not yet regained the memberships it had prior to the pandemic and at one point feared the business was in jeopardy.
The golf course and clubhouse are in Four Falls, New Brunswick, while the parking lot and pro shop are in Fort Fairfield.
To tee up, Americans must pass through a Canada Border Services Agency port of entry and also submit health information through free mobile app ArriveCAN within 72 hours of entering a port of entry. They must also have a passport and proof of COVID-19 vaccination and have to be processed by immigration and customs.
Prior to the pandemic, Americans did not have to travel through a border crossing to play on the course.
“As a result of these policies, American attendance at the club has diminished, posing a threat to the sustainability and continued operations of the club,” Mills and Higgs wrote in the letter, adding that the requirements add about 40 minutes each way for Americans trying to enter the course.
Steve Leitch, club pro and manager, said last week that there were 28 Americans who had golf memberships and 113 Canadians. Over the years, the membership has usually been closely divided with there being slightly more Americans than Canadians.
The 141 current members is 48 fewer than the total for the season before the pandemic.
Mills and Higgs cited a golf course in Ontario, the Grenadier Island Country Club, that they claim Americans can visit by simply checking in with the Canada Border Services Agency using a smartphone app.
“While this might not be the right solution for remote entry to the [Aroostook Valley Country Club], we write to request your assistance in expediting the implementation of a solution that will alleviate the current situation,” the two wrote in the letter.
“With the club’s centennial year just around the corner, we must come together to preserve this important symbol of U.S.- Canadian friendship for generations to come.”