Ottawans, you can finally start making those cottage plans. The City announced today that those residents who have cottages or recreational homes in nearby Gatineau will be allowed to cross the border into Quebec starting Monday, May 18. The move signals a loosening of restrictions at the Ontario-Quebec border.
On Friday, May 15, the Quebec Government announced that starting Monday, May 18, the current checkpoints at the bridges over Ottawa River preventing cross-border access will be removed.
"I am glad the Quebec government has finally announced its decision to open up the border between Ottawa and Gatineau. I still don’t understand what was accomplished but I am pleased that residents on both sides of the river can pass by freely," reads a tweet by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
However, Watson admitted that he finds it "regrettable" that the measure was not put in place in time for Victoria Day weekend.
Whether or not residents should be allowed to move across provincial borderlines has been a hot debate in recent weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Ottawans are in the rather unique position of living in Ontario but having a vacation home just the other side of the line in Gatineau.
And, while Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this month that cottage visits can be back on the agenda, Gatineau is currently closed to all non-essential travel.
On the first weekend of May, Quebec police had blocked 1,700 vehicles from crossing the provincial border.
And a petition on Change.org had been arguing that people's Quebec cottages are at risk of damage and lack of upkeep if they cannot be accessed by their Ontario resident owners.
That petition had thousands of signatures before Friday's decision.
According to CTV News, the Quebec Government had enacted the travel restrictions at the border on April 1.
Both the Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec had set up random police checkpoints in the area in order to put a stop on non-essential travel.
However, although the checkpoints are being lifted, the Quebec government is still asking residents to stop non-essential travel from province to province and even city to city, according to CTV.
Still, the lifted restrictions will come as a huge relief for many.
Not least the police officers who had a 70-year-old man threatening to shoot them this week over the border controls.