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Metro Detroiters who own Canadian cottages stressed about 6-month border closure

Border closure extended as winter draws closer

Metro Detroit residents who own cottages in Canada haven’t been able to visit them for six months, and after the latest extension of the border closure, they’re getting more worried as winter is right around the corner.

The trials and tribulations of having a second home anywhere might be good problems to have, unless they include a pandemic that keeps people locked out of their homes while still dealing with the obligations.

For many Metro Detroiters, going to a cottage up north means going across the Bluewater Bridge into Canada, south of the border through the tunnel or across the Ambassador Bridge.

But as the borders between the United States and Canada remain closed, those cottage owners haven’t had access to their properties for the last six months.

Shirley Kaigler, an attorney from Detroit, and her husband, Darnell, a dentists, said their house on Lake Huron is pure medicine, but now it’s cut off.

Patra and Al Herfi, of Grosse Ile, said their second home on the Canadian side of Lake Erie was supposed to be their retirement home. They bought it at a time when the U.S. dollar exchange rate was around 67 cents to the Loonie. It meant lakefront living was more than half the price of a Michigan property.

MORE: Recently married couple separated due to extension of US-Canadian border closure

“It wasn’t just our fun weekend getaway,” Patra Herfi said.

The border being shut down through October means Americans with cottages in Canada have to maintain them from afar.

“We’re still paying our property taxes and utilities,” Al Herfi said.

Most cottages owners said Canadian neighbors are notorious for being thoughtful and helpful, so they’re keeping those properties safe.

But the shutdown isn’t the only problem. The slowdowns with the United States Postal Service mean bills and mortgage loans can’t always be paid on time.

“We used to take care of things and leave it under the mat,” Shirley Kaigler said.

With winter coming, winterizing cottages and all the other essential tasks need to be done to make sure investments aren’t destroyed by Mother Nature.

Most of the cottage owners said they understand why the borders have been closed, but it’s still painful, expensive and frustrating to pay bills and taxes for homes they can’t use.


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