Despite travel restrictions, Canadians finding alternative ways to spend winter in RGV

Local News

MISSION, Texas (KVEO) — Despite the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, some winter Texans are not letting the restriction prevent them from escaping northern temperatures.   

Robert Jacques has been wintering in the city of Mission for 13 years, and he was not going to let the pandemic stop him from spending his 14th at Sleepy Valley Resort.   

“I feel safer here than in my own country because here, nobody is protesting,” he said. “Everybody is wearing a mask.”  

Sleepy Valley is a 70% winter Texan park, and with the border closure still in effect, hundreds of lots remain empty.  

The activity director says reservations normally happen months in advance. However, it is not the case this year. 

“Right now, we could take just about anybody that wanted to come,” said Debbie Taylor, Sleepy Valley Activity Director.

Although land travel is prohibited, Jacques was able to come down with his wife by flying. 

They have a park model, but for Canadians who normally travel down in their RV, the journey would be a bit more complicated.   

“What they have to do is they have to hire a carrier that will take their RV, put them on a float or drive them or have it driven by their drivers to Fort Lauderdale,” he said. “Then, they have to buy a plane ticket to fly to Fort Lauderdale and drive 2,500 kilometers.”  

While the flight only cost him $800, he says renting a car would be too expensive. So, he’s been relying on his American neighbors for rides, and he’s been in communication with fellow Canadians who plan on venturing down in the coming weeks to coordinate how they may get around town for essential errands.  

“We’ll organize something like on Thursday we can take from 10 to 11 people to Walmart, or take them to Home Depot or H-E-B,” he said.  

Taylor says Jacques is one of five Canadians currently in the park. She believes those not wanting to circumvent the restriction will venture down later on if possible.  

“If they open the border, they’re going to come,” she said. “It’s cold up there and they want to be here.”  

The border closure was first implemented in April and was recently extended through Nov. 21. 

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