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U.S. Canada lawmakers hear residents’ concerns amid continuous border closure

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INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN-- The U.S.-Canadian border has been closed for 13 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In that time, Dan Finnie who built a retirement home in the Northwest Angle has only been able to travel to his house by snowmobile.

"To me, it's not right, I own a home there and it's in Minnesota, U.S. and to me, I feel that it's essential that I be able to drive to my house," said Finnie.

Fannie, like many others living near the border, is getting frustrated.

So, they shared those concerns Tuesday with lawmakers on both sides of the border during a round table discussion in International Falls.

"To see if I could get some answers or hopefully somebody truly does care," said Finnie. "Because the resorts up there are starving."

Members of Canadian Parliament, 7th and 8th Congressional District Representatives Pete Stauber and Michelle Fischbach hosted the discussion.

"It's critical that we understand, and we hear these stories personally so that we can take that forward as we are looking for solutions," said Fischbach.

The more than year-long closure has left a lasting impact on the economy.

"Business is down 90-95 percent. They're not sure they're going to make it and a lot of them are seasonal," added Stauber.

Beyond economics, people said the closure has impacted access to health care and the working relationship between bordering communities.

"This will be the second season that they're not allowed to open, and it's been very difficult and devastating," Stauber said.

For Finnie, he's concerned if something happens to his home, he won't be able to fix it.

"Yes, I can have somebody go check on it and make a few calls," added Fannie. "But what a burden that is too, ya know?"

Canadian Members of Parliament said their vaccine efforts will play a role in when the border can reopen.
Adding, Canada is behind in vaccine efforts compared to the US.

"I think it's an important part all over the country and into Canada about getting that vaccine widely used," said Fischbach.

Panelists asked lawmakers to consider creating a travel corridor through the Northwest Angle until the border reopens.
As of right now, the border closure remains in place through April 21.

No word yet on the next steps.

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Emma Quinn

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