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Passport renewal delays could hinder B.C. family's dream trip to see golf tournament

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It was supposed to be a high school graduation present like no other: a trip to St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland to watch the best golfers in the world duke it out in the Open Championship.

To even purchase a ticket, fans need to win a lottery.

“There was 1.3 million entries,” said Sarah Wiebe, a Ladner, B.C., mom who entered the draw to win tickets for her son.

Wiebe entered the lottery in October 2021. To her surprise, a few weeks later she was sent a message from tournament organizers telling her she had won.

“Holy, bucket-list,” said Wiebe.

Wiebe had been monitoring the COVID-19 situation, knowing the pandemic may pose some challenges to travel, but it seemed that the situation improved enough that the family could take the trip.

In March, she noticed her sons' passports were up for renewal. So, with four months until the family’s flight, she chose the mail-in route in order to avoid the lengthy in-person lineups.

“I sent off the kids' original birth certificates, a certified copy of my son's driver’s licence, the applications themselves, and my credit card number,” said Wiebe.

Wiebe says the payment went through on her credit card, but despite calling, emailing and even writing her local member of Parliament, she hasn’t heard anything from Service Canada.

“I’m into Week 12 or Week 13 right now,” said Wiebe in an interview with CTV News Thursday. On the automated message played when reaching the Service Canada line, the voice says applicants can expect a wait time up to nine weeks, not including delivery time.

Federal Minister Karina Gould told CTV News earlier this week that most in-person applications take around 10 days to process, while the mail-in process has been a bigger challenge, taking around 45 business days.

“At this point we’re receiving a far greater volume in terms of applications than what we have capacity to process,” said Gould.

Wiebe said the situation has been frustrating.

“Didn’t they see this coming?”

Wiebe is keeping hope alive that her family will still attend golf’s holy grail, but she wants her story to serve as a cautionary tale for others needing to renew their own passports.

“Go get in line,” said Wiebe. “That seems to be the solution, don’t mail it. Get up at 4:30 (a.m.) and go.”

Wiebe already ordered new birth certificates for her two boys so that she can try to renew her passport in person. Her family’s flight is scheduled to leave for Europe in three weeks.

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