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NDP Leader Kate White

Alaska wants Yukon travel restrictions eased for snowbirds

The Alaskan governor is requesting a relaxation of border restrictions between Alaska and Canada for “snowbirds” travelling south for the winter.

By Whitehorse Star on November 3, 2020

The Alaskan governor is requesting a relaxation of border restrictions between Alaska and Canada for “snowbirds” travelling south for the winter.

“Some specific issues (are) severely impacting our constituents as the border crossing restrictions due to COVID-19 continue,” states a letter dated Oct. 21.

The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, two federal ministers, Premier Sandy Silver and B.C. Premier John Horgan.

It’s signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, two U.S. senators and a U.S. representative. 

It requests that Alaskans who travel south for the winter be permitted to transit through Canada as essential travellers.

“They travel south because Alaska’s winter can be harsh, complicating underlying medical conditions,” the letter says.

“Their winter homes in the ‘Lower 48’ are closer to comprehensive medical facilities which are better equipped to address their healthcare needs.”

The letter notes that many of these Alaskans travelling south are seniors who require medical care unavailable in the rural North.

“We submit that such travel is essential for these senior citizens, as well as for the health and safety of broader populations in regions where access to healthcare is limited,” the letter says.

The state would require that Alaskan travellers present a negative COVID-19 test before entering Canada, the letter suggests.

It adds that Canada currently has travel requirements, including limited time to move from border to border, which already limit contact between Alaskans and Canadians.

“We are certain Alaskans journeying south would respect any conditions your government sets for them as they undertake passage through Canada.”

The letter also requests a “travel bubble” to be granted between the Alaskan community of Hyder and the B.C. community of Stewart.

The two towns straddle the U.S.-Canada border, and existed as one community before this year’s border lockdown.

The letter explains that many of Hyder’s utilities and grocery needs are located in Stewart.

Hyder children are unable to attend their school in Stewart, and families are barred from visiting one another.

A travel bubble would allow Hyder residents to access family, essential supplies, schooling, medical care and religious services, the letter argues.

“The current travel restrictions are having an increasingly negative impact on these communities,” the letter says.

NDP Leader Kate White brought the letter to the legislative question period on Monday.

“Just today, Alaska announced 349 new cases of COVID-19 as well as one additional death,” White said.

“The prospect of increased travel from Alaska has many Yukoners concerned, especially those living in communities along the Alaska Highway corridor.”

Premier Sandy Silver said he hasn’t been contacted directly about this request for a border relaxation, but has previously spoken with Alaskan officials about other one-off border requests.

“I informed the Alaska government at that time that those decisions are made at the federal level and that we will pass our concerns on to the federal government in that capacity,” Silver said.

John Streicker, the minister of Community Services, noted that Alaskan travellers passing through Yukon have not brought COVID-19 to the territory.

He said that about 40,000 Americans have passed through the territory since restrictions came into place.

“We don’t know yet of a single case of COVID being transferred,” Streicker said.

Comments (29)

Up 10 Down 6

private thanks on Nov 9, 2020 at 11:32 am

Total COVID cases in Alaska 19,712
512 new cases and deaths 79 - you want that here???

Up 19 Down 23

Dave on Nov 7, 2020 at 11:56 am

@JohnW, you summed things up perfectly. What is going on with people here? Alaskans are our friends and neighbours and yet many small minded people apparently can’t wait to throw them under the bus.

Up 24 Down 17

Donovan on Nov 7, 2020 at 6:15 am

If Alaskans want to cross then they should be placed in caravans. Caravan leaves the border at X time. It should cost them a bond deposit of $5000 to pay for the convoy expenses. Alaskans will stay within the caravan and NOT stop anywhere that is not on the approved route. If they try to deviate from that route for any reason it should cost them their bond and result in a $100,000 fine. As well as an immediate escort back to the US border where they will be issued a lifetime ban from entering Canada again. We can safely and effectively escort these Americans across our borders but it should be HIGHLY restricted and enforced. And we Canadians should not have to foot one single penny of the bill.

Up 18 Down 24

TheHammer on Nov 5, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Robert Ross@ stop trying to whine your way across the border. This is not Stewart. If Hyder wants a better deal they should start legal proceedings to become part of Canada.

Up 34 Down 15

Robert Ross on Nov 5, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Reply to Tony Moulton

Tony:
“As an Alaska resident with family and friends in the lower 48, we enjoy traveling through Canada by RV and motorcycle. We had to cancel our trips this year due to covid border closures.”
We likewise have had to cancel our many trips to Alaska (Haines, Skagway, Juneau, Hyder, Valdez, Tok, Anchorage, Hope, Homer, Seward, Whitaker and beyond) due to border closures.

“Hyder children are unable to attend their school in Stewart, and families are barred from visiting one another. A travel bubble would allow Hyder residents to access family, essential supplies, schooling, medical care and religious services, the letter argues.”

This barring is ridiculous. There are less than 100 people and 2 kids. Come on Canada – show some common sense and empathy!! There are no flights, ferries coming to Hyder, only road access through Stewart, BC.

“Hearing of vandalism to vehicles with US plates has made us rethink using the Alaska Highway for our future travels.”
This is unacceptable to Yukoners and should be investigated by the RCMP.
Our sympathies to those violated.

We have taken the Alaska Marine highway twice (Prince Rupert to Haines). They were delightful and relaxing trips – we saw many places we should visit. These 2 marine trips will be experiences we will always cherish. Food and cabin were not bad either. We would always choose ferry over long distances. Treat yourself to a relaxing vacation. With the present weather and high levels of snow in the winter makes this marine trip a good alternate idea. Relax, have a nice, safe and leisurely vacation. I would always choose this way over road travel on this long trip. SAFER!!

I can understand your dismay. But almost ALL Yukoners feel a strong bond with Alaskans. We love to visit Haines, Skagway and further places in Alaska. MY Alaskan friends always speak highly of trips to the Yukon and their friends here.
When this pandemic is over we will all be able to resume our closeness and friendships between Alaska and the Yukon. Many Canadians move to Whitehorse simply to be able to visit Alaska easily.

Semper fi
Be safe, be careful and be kind

Up 38 Down 7

Atom on Nov 5, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Yes Tony, since there were one whole occasion where someone may have deflected worry on US tourists in Yukon this past 9 months, you should spend your dollars elsewhere. Safe travels!

Up 70 Down 2

Tony Moulton on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:39 am

As an Alaska resident with family and friends in the lower 48, we enjoy traveling through Canada by RV and motorcycle. We had to cancel our trips this year due to covid border closures. Hearing of vandalism to vehicles with US plates has made us rethink using the Alaska highway for our future travels. Perhaps we will take the advice seen here and spend our money where it is appreciated on the Alaska Marine Highway or Alaska Airlines for future travel to the lower 48.

Up 21 Down 49

Nathan Doiron on Nov 5, 2020 at 3:29 am

Honest to goodness, what is wrong with you people. You are begging for our rights to be taken away and our children and grand children to become debt slaves. All because a black box told you to be afraid.

Up 42 Down 7

Really!!!!!!!! on Nov 4, 2020 at 8:16 pm

News alert! There are doctors in Alaska!!!!!!

Up 35 Down 31

JohnW on Nov 4, 2020 at 7:35 pm

The most disgusting aspect of the whole plandemic has been how quickly the bigoted, xenophobic, divisive 'witch hunt mentality' reared it's ugly head in the Yukon. Cell phones and social media provided the means for small-minded people to spread hate and misinformation further and faster than ever before.
Yukoners used to be better than that, but then the recent influx of outsiders changed it.

Up 38 Down 12

TheHammer on Nov 4, 2020 at 5:55 pm

People who quote statistics and percentages to justify their arguments to allow cross border travel, are not behaving like human beings, they are behaving like computers. it's not only about surviving death, it's about being sick and overwhelming the medical system. And people who minimize the death rate are not people who have lost family to COVID. America is the epicenter of COVID because of these very same ideas, and their death rate is in the 200,000 range.

Up 69 Down 8

Matthew Sills on Nov 4, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Just did a quick check on Alaska Airlines for November 11 to November 30 Anchorage to Seattle and economy seats ranged from $192.00 to $272.00 (US$). So flying would be way cheaper, less stressful, and the only downside would be that you would not have all your toys with you. I would like to be accommodating and neighbourly but unfortunately the arguments they present just don’t hold water. If the winters are that harsh and your need to go south is so compelling, get on an airplane. The US just recorded over 106,000 cases today and Alaska recorded 404 new cases today and has over 10,000 active cases. Nuff said!

Up 16 Down 70

Nathan Living on Nov 4, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Let the American snowbirds through then maybe we can get to go to Skagway and Haines soon.
Have had enough of the tough approach it's time to relax a little.

We want to invade Skagway soon and go for a halibut burger and that good craft beer.
The tough love should be over sooner than later.

Up 79 Down 20

unReal on Nov 4, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Of the 40,000 Alaskans/Americans who travelled North all summer, they used the excuse that that is where their home is or had work there. None probably said they were going North because of health reasons. Now, their home seems to be down South. I admire Alaskans but they can't have the best of both worlds!

Up 29 Down 76

Max Mack on Nov 4, 2020 at 12:01 pm

I agree with Jack. Xenophobia seems to be much in vogue these days.
According to the latest CDC estimates, COVID survival rate +99.99% overall. The only age categories that warrant concern are the 50-69 group (99.5% survival) and 70+ (94.6% survival).

We are trying to shut out our neighbours when there is very little risk according to the CDC's own best estimates.

Up 36 Down 19

Wilf Carter on Nov 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

Can some one in NDP tell Yukoners who they are supporting here, US or Yukon people? It seems US people over Yukoners.

Up 50 Down 16

TheHammer on Nov 4, 2020 at 10:49 am

Mr. Streicker is out of date. He's talking before COVID hit Alaska. He's talking about the people that want to drill in the porcupine caribou calving grounds. A few days ago I saw a Mississippi license plate at Petro on the Hiway. Using the pay phone, no hand sanitizer, no mask, heading from where to where in the direction of Whitehorse? Can you imagine if Alaskans from Skagway were on the Hiway when the snow came down? Keep the border closed don't give in. Carcross is the first stop, if they get snowed in they will be staying there.

Up 82 Down 6

Denis on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:59 am

In my younger years I also was a snowbird to Arizona for 10 years. The Alaska Hwy is dangerous in winter for healthy travelers. I have traveled via Alaska ferry system to Bellingham more than once. It is a nice trip and would be my first choice, simply for safety reasons. Or simply fly. Most have a car at their destination. What on earth is Yukon NDP doing sticking their nose into non Yukon business?

Up 62 Down 22

YukonMax on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:29 am

"John Streicker, noted that Alaskan travellers passing through Yukon have not brought COVID-19 to the territory."
“We don’t know yet of a single case of COVID being transferred,” Streicker said."
EXACTLY, YOU JUST DON"T KNOW, SO SHUT IT please!
That is one issue no one should take up just to make themselves relevant.

Up 90 Down 23

Bandit on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:14 am

I say not a chance, I have friends here and down south that can't transit thru the US to get to their winter homes in the US and Mexico, I would also like a warm holiday this winter but I'm gonna have to suck it up this year, keep the borders closed for now.

Up 45 Down 24

Wilf Carter on Nov 4, 2020 at 3:07 am

It closed folks.

Up 40 Down 92

jack on Nov 4, 2020 at 2:19 am

Wow, xenophobic US haters. If the tables where turned, it would be a different story.

Up 87 Down 30

Olaf on Nov 3, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Do we really need seniors, with health issues, driving the Alaska Hwy in the dead of winter.
This request is not passing the smell test.

Fly - and rent or buy a new car at your “winter home”.
Their self serving lifestyle should not come at my health cost!

Up 38 Down 103

Matthew on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Why not? I for one would love to spend some time in Skaguay this year.

Up 39 Down 52

Wilf Carter on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm

What's the point here? This can be managed by government staff and does not require to go to the house for that. Liberals have it right. Far as BC business this does not belong in the Yukon house to discuss. Has nothing to do with Yukoners.
Same as Native business in NS. NS are not happy with NDP sticking their noses into their business.
Can some one tell me what the NDP are trying to do?

Up 122 Down 21

Charmaine Klippert on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:41 pm

When we were allowing Americans thru earlier some did not respect our restrictions.
They were asked to continue thru on the highway with no stops into Whitehorse. However some of them did go into Whitehorse in the downtown area to stores etc.
So I understand that Yukon people are concerned.

Up 125 Down 20

J MacLaren on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Perhaps the Alaskan snowbirds could take the Alaskan Ferry directly to Bellingham and avoid border issues. It is a lovely trip and less stressful than driving the Alaskan Highway in the winter. Just a thought.

Up 125 Down 19

Fly there instead on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Why can't they just fly and rent a car at their other home if they don't have one? it's quicker and safer anyway.
I think a few too many over zealous American's ruined it for these people to be able to travel at their leisure.

Up 143 Down 22

Sheepchaser on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm

No thanks. Not a good enough reason. Stay put. Canadian snow birds can’t travel by land border to their US homes either. But there are direct flights from Alaska to the rest of the USA. Figure it out for one season. Not that hard.

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