There are calls for Canada Border Services to resume operations in Lunenburg, N.S., so that international cruise ships can be cleared for entry on site instead of having to visit another port.
The federal agency suspended services in the picturesque seaside town two years ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning international vessels must stop at another port of entry.
That happened Monday when the town had its first international cruise ship come in from Bar Harbor, Maine — but only after a visit to Yarmouth.
"They had to spend about three to four hours last night doing their clear-ins. That made them late here in Lunenburg, which means they missed most of their day in Lunenburg town, and that's a loss for all of our businesses," said Alan Creaser, a restaurant owner who has been pleading with CBSA to come back.
"It's been two tough years for the businesses in this community, and this is part of tourism — not just for Lunenburg, but for the whole province — and we got to be ready, and we're not ready to welcome these people back because we don't have the services we need here."
Current ports of entry in Nova Scotia include Yarmouth, Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth, Tantallon, Louisbourg and Sydney.
Andreas Josenhans, a sailor from Lunenburg, said it's time to bring the international port back to the town.
"We absolutely need it," he said.
"The world wants to get out of their lockdown mentality.... The world wants to put this behind us and enjoy some of the great places that we locally have to offer."
Sandy Marshall, who chairs the Lunenburg Waterfront Association, said the community attracts visitors who are interested in its history and culture.
Lunenburg, which is about an hour's drive southwest of Halifax, is perhaps most famous as the home port of the Bluenose II and the birthplace of the original schooner.
"We also have the yachting community that arrives here because we are a draw for them," said Marshall.
Aside from yachts and cruise ships, Lunenburg regularly welcomes tall ships to its harbour.
"We've always been a port where we could clear in, clear customs, and be welcomed into Canada," said Creaser. "It's time now. We're opened. People are coming, the boats are showing up."
CBC News reached out to the federal government for comment, but did not get an immediate response.
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