Canada Border Services says “at no point” was Creston mayor Ron Toyota refused admission to Canada when returning from a visit to the U.S.
In an email responding to Toyota’s recent complaint, Lorne Black, the acting director of the Okanagan and Kootenay district wrote: “Based on a wholesome review of your entry on Nov. 15, [we] can confirm that at no point were you denied entry into Canada. You elected to voluntarily leave the Rykerts port of entry and return to the US in order to complete your ArriveCAN submission and to await your valid pre-arrival test results, in order to benefit from the fully vaccinated traveller quarantine exemption.”
The message did not contain an apology.
Toyota said he and his wife were twice turned back at the border, first because they had not downloaded the ArriveCAN app, which they did not know existed, and secondly because results from a COVID test they took were overdue.
Toyota said the border agent told him that while they could not stop him from crossing, they would be reported to health authorities and face fines of up to $3,500 each. They opted to return to Bonners Ferry until their results arrived at 10 p.m. that night.
Toyota complained to media and directly to Canada Border Services that they needed to do more to make their requirements of travellers known.
Toyota said he was grateful that Black, whom he knows, took the matter up. “He took my comments to heart and talked to his superiors. A lot of it is cut and paste, but they did look at it. I thank them for that.”
He added that now that Canadians are allowed to spend 72 hours south of the border without having to produce a negative COVID test, “it’ll be interesting how easy it is for non-essential land-crossings. Hopefully it goes well.”
Toyota said the experience has not discouraged him from travelling to the U.S., but he will be “very careful” in future.
“That’s my whole point. ArriveCAN has been in place for over a year, but it was meant for essential travellers, who are used to it. Us non-essentials haven’t been allowed to cross the land border.”