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Canadian fishing lodge owners stranded in Abilene amid COVID-19



ABILENE, TX – After finding each other at Abilene Christian University eight years ago and graduating, Kara and Derek Zimmerman had big plans for their future.

“But we always had a dream to work for ourselves,” Kara said.

And they did, successfully purchasing a fishing camp lodge all the way in Ontario, Canada a year ago. But Kara said they had a couple kinks to untangle before they could settle down. While in Canada, their main water source is the lake they live on.

“So, in the winter in Ontario, everything freezes over, we would not be able to live there, that’s why we have to come back to Texas,” she said.

They’d live in Canada during their tourist season, and move back to Abilene for the other half of the year. It was all planned out, as they expected to head back to Ontario in April to open camp.

“With the onset of COVID-19, the border had been shut since I believe March 23,” she said.

Derrick said they’re in the same boat as plenty of other businesses.

“The tourism industry is considered non-essential,” he said.

Phones once ringing with bookings now have turned silent.

“You purchase a property, you purchase a business, a successful business at that, and then one day the government tells you can’t operate anymore,” he said. “Not only can you not operate, you can’t even get there.”

Now playing the wait and see game, Kara says they make their entire year’s income within a short period of time.

“And so, when we’re shut down or we can’t work for any period of that time, it’s substantial income loss, and if we end up losing three months of business, that’s our entire year of income,” she said.

They still have guests booked for July, August and September, and are waiting for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to open the borders again.