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‘We just want to go home’: New Brunswick property owners react to being shut out

Nathalie Arsenault and Patrick Wilson are fully-vaccinated and were prepared to isolate for 14 days upon their return home to their New Brunswick property this spring. But following an announcement by Premier Blaine Higgs late last week, it doesn’t look like it will be happening any time soon.

On April 22, Premier Blaine Higgs said property owners living outside New Brunswick likely won’t be allowed back into the province until it reaches herd immunity, or 75 per cent of the population vaccinated against COVID-19. The province has yet to confirm any date.

Arsenault and Wilson, are two of many with property in New Brunswick and/or family ties to the province who cannot return to the province.

Currently Florida residents, as they spend more time in the United States than New Brunswick, Arsenault said the couple and their dogs want nothing more than to come home to Pointe-du-Chene in May to spend the summer here. But while Pointe-du-Chene is home to them and they are Canadian citizens, Pointe-du-Chene is not their primary residence.

“We want to come home,” said Arsenault. “We want to be in New Brunswick.”

Last spring the couple isolated on their property for 14 days.

“I hope things change,” said Arsenault of the updated regulations.

Last year, nobody was vaccinated, she said. This year many people like the couple are fully vaccinated, and still happy to follow other rules if they can come home to the province, she said.

But the premier said last week, “We haven’t confirmed any date when we would look at property owners coming out-of-province or out-of-country back to their location.”

Alana Bourque of Montreal has a summer cottage in Grand-Barachois that’s been empty since August 2019. Normally her family travels every summer from Montreal to be with extended family in Shediac, she said.

Her parents and a lot of her family are from Shediac. “The biggest thing is not being able to see our family,” she said. “It’s the one time of year we are all together.”

“I am resigned to the fact that it’s not happening again this year,” she said.

Last year, she said the family wasn’t in a position to take more than three weeks in Shediac, which would have meant isolating for two thirds of their vacation, she said. This year, they have the option of staying longer but the new rules forbidding property owners from entering may again cancel the trip.

Bourque, who noted she is vaccinated, said she is understanding, but it’s been a long time not being able to see family and that’s hard, she said. “We’ll be glad when it’s over.”

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Shediac Mayor Roger Caissie said, “Certainly I’d like if summer residents could come here, enjoy our beautiful location and contribute to the local economy, but we’re just not quite there yet.”
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