The Canadian Camping and RV Council expressed concerns to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding Canadian “Snowbirds” ability to travel south this fall should the Canada/US Border remain closed to non-essential travel after the camping season ends in 2020 due to Covid-19. Canada’s National Private Campground Association estimates that there are between 50,000 – 200,000 Canadian Snowbirds who travel in an RV or stay seasonally during the spring to fall months at Canadian private or Government-owned campgrounds but live in the U.S. during winter months.
While campgrounds and other U.S. businesses that cater to Canadian snowbirds would like them to come back during the winter months, Canadians are wary about traveling to the U.S., where efforts to contain COVID-19 pale compared to other industrialized countries, including Canada.
At the outset of the crisis in March, Trudeau called upon all Canadians including snowbirds residing outside the country to return home immediately with their RVs. The result was an enormous strain on Canadian private campground owners, who were either coerced through public pressure or who voluntarily opened their businesses early to accommodate RVers with limited or no alternatives.
However, the majority of private campgrounds in Canada (outside of British Columbia) are seasonal businesses. They were not designed, nor capable, of operating water and septic infrastructure/essential services without risking permanent damage to the components in extreme cold weather.
Allowing RVers to continue to occupy the campgrounds past normal closure times without the services would pose considerable health and safety risks. In addition to these physical restrictions, local municipal bylaws in most provinces prohibit campgrounds from operating past mandated closing schedules.
For these reasons, CCRVC acting on behalf of private campground owners is proactively communicating with government agencies and snowbirds that private campgrounds cannot be considered as extended stay options after October, should the US/Canada Border remain closed for non-essential travel.
As a potential solution. CCRVC is partnering with the Hotel Association of Canada to offer discounted daily and longer-term accommodations to Canadian snowbirds who may not have any other options available to them. An alternative could be opening the US/Canada border one way for Canadians to travel to the U.S., but not for U.S. travel into Canada. The Canadian RV and camping industry is committed to serving a crucial role to help combat the public health emergency the pandemic presents and is ready and willing and able to be an important resource.