When the Ontario-Manitoba border closed to non-essential travel, Manitobans hoping to get some work done on their cottages this spring were out of luck. However, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), who are patrolling the border, are now permitting out-of-province contractors and property owners to enter Ontario to work on recreational properties.
“Originally, it was supposed to only be essential work, like if there was fear or concern that something may get worse. An emergency, like you had to get over there because there was a tree on your roof or something like that. But now that’s changed,” says Const. Jason Canfield with the OPP’s Kenora dispatch.
Having patrolled the border since April 19, the OPP determined that it was unclear whether repairs, contract work, and construction were deemed essential. After seeking legal advice, the OPP decided that they were essential reasons for travel.
If a contractor or property owner is crossing the border to work on a seasonal property, Canfield says the individual will be screened by the OPP, with officers asking for their name, the address of the property they’re working at, and how long the work will take.
“They’re just verifying,” Canfield says, “because some people will try and use this as an excuse to come across and go stay at their [cottage].”
Apart from this change, the border remains closed to non-essential travel until May 20. Canfield says that commercial vehicles, such as transport trucks making deliveries, are allowed to pass through the border unhindered, but all personal vehicles will be waved into the OPP checkpoint. “Even if it’s an Ontario plate, we’re still going to have a conversation,” he says.
Though Ontario residents will be stopped, they won’t be denied entry, Canfield clarifies.
But anyone from out-of-province travelling for non-essential reasons will be turned away, as per Ontario’s Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.
Essential reasons for travelling include:
- Living or working in Ontario
- Receiving medical care or social services
- Providing care or assistance to a person due to their state of health
- Attending, transporting, or picking up a student from a school in Ontario
- Exercising Indigenous or treaty rights
The full list of essential reasons for travelling can be found here.