The club has its parking lot and pro shop in Fort Fairfield, Maine, but the clubhouse and golf course are across the Canadian border in New Brunswick, which Americans are now banned from crossing. With the crossing station for auto traffic also closed, Canadians can only play the course by finding another way to get to Maine, which prompted one golfer to use a canoe to be able to play a round.
The unique characteristics of Aroostook Valley Country Club (AVCC)—where the parking lot and pro shop for the golf course are in Fort Fairfield, Maine, but the clubhouse and course itself are across the Canadian border in New Brunswick—has once again caused activity at the club to be disrupted by government restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Where previously American members of the club were trying to find a way to make it possible for Canadians to come across the border to enter the course (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/coronavirus-club-update-6-2-20-aroostook-valley-cc-takes-up-the-cause-for-banned-canadian-players/), now the Canadian government has mandated that Americans are not allowed to play any part of the 91-year-old, 18-hole course, all of which is on the Canadian side of the international boundary.
The Canadian government, the provincial government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police informed AVCC’s pro-manager, Steve Leitch, on July 14th that Americans can’t have access to the course due to the pandemic, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News reported.
Canadians can play the course, the Daily News reported, but only if they find another mode of transportation other than a car to cross the border, because the Four Falls Border Crossing station for auto traffic in New Brunswick has been closed by the Canada Border Services Agency.
That complication, Leitch said, prompted one Canadian golfer to use a canoe to get to the course, the Daily News reported.
Canadians who work at the club can come into Maine because they are considered essential workers, the Daily News reported.
“The Canadian government had declared the country under a declaration of emergency, so the Canada-U.S. border is closed.” Leitch told the Daily News. “People from either country can’t gain access through the ports of entry. Since golfers are not considered essential in Health Canada’s eyes, we must abide by it.”
While he wasn’t shocked at the decision, Leitch added, he was surprised by the timing of it. “I thought it might happen when we initially opened in May. I didn’t think it would happen on July 15,” he said.
Canadian government officials didn’t give a reason for their decision, he added. “When you are dealing with the government, they don’t need to give you a reason,” Leitch said.
Cross-border restrictions have been in place since March, and the U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments recently announced an extension of an agreement that will now keep their shared borders closed until August 21st at least, except for freight-only traffic and essential workers’ travel, according to TravelMole.
A recent survey found that 80% of Canadians want the U.S.-Canada border to stay closed until at least the end of 2020, with more than 90% saying they consider it too risky to travel south to the U.S. this summer, TravelMole reported.
Aroostook Valley CC will continue to adhere to coronavirus guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the illness, Leitch told the Daily News. And even though the club will have to lay off some workers, everything will be done to keep the golf course in top condition.
“I’m not going to let it [deteriorate],” he said. “We will maintain it.”
AVCC’s membership is usually closely divided between Americans and Canadians, the Daily News reported, with the Americans having a slight advantage. Members from both countries have been very supportive of the club during the pandemic, Leitch said, with several members continuing to pay for their memberships even if they have very limited access, if any, to the course.
The club is anticipating a significant revenue loss for this season, the Daily News reported, because of not being able to hold tournament events, even though it also won’t incur its normal expenses.
Larry Gardner, an American from Fort Fairfield who has been an AVCC member for 54 years, told the Daily News that “everybody on both sides of the border is disappointed” with how the pandemic has affected the club.
“That’s an understatement,” added Ralph Michaud from Presque Isle, Maine, a 50-year member who said he is now “very worried” about the future of the golf course.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the club’s situation, Michaud added, is that New Brunswick and Maine are two places that have done a nice job “controlling the outbreaks of the coronavirus.”
There have only been 168 cases and two deaths in New Brunswick from the coronavirus so far, and Maine’s Aroostook County has had only 25 cases with one death, the Daily News reported.
“I just hope people can work it out for the members on both sides of the border,” said Gardner, a member of the AVCC Board of Directors.