Family waits weeks for passport news so B.C. cancer patient can travel with grandkids to Disneyland

Long waits for passports have been leading to stress and frustration for many with travel plans, including a B.C. family with tickets for a very meaningful vacation: a “bucket list” trip to Disneyland with a beloved grandmother facing a devastating diagnosis.

They’ve been waiting for weeks with no answers, until now.

Hope resident Brandon Williams said his mother-in-law Barb Walter wanted to create a special memory with her grandchildren by travelling with the family to Disneyland next month. They had originally been planning to take the trip some other year, but then things changed.

“My mother-in-law asked if we could do it right away so she could be there to see it,” he said. “Because she doesn’t have very long left.”

Williams says the 56-year-old has breast cancer and recently learned it had spread to her bones.

“At this point, it’s just spreading so rapidly,” he said. “They said six months to a year.”

Williams said Walter is an “extremely special” person, who does a lot for others. She and her husband moved to Hope to help Williams and his wife Cheyenne care for their children, who are now three, five, and seven years old.

“I think a big part of this is she wants to be remembered by the kids,” he said of the Disneyland trip. “That’s her last thing on her bucket list that she wants to do.”

First, the three children needed new passports. Their application was sent by priority mail in late April. Weeks passed by with no word, and no answer on the phone.

“My wife probably tried 20 times a day. She did try 20 times a couple days ago. She counted just for the heck of it,” Williams said. “I just wanted to reach out to someone and say hey, this is her last thing, this is her bucket list, but you can’t talk to anybody. So it’s frustrating.”

It’s a frustration many have been facing as Service Canada deals with an influx of passport applications. Nearly 500,000 were received in March and April alone. Staffing has been increased, but there are still lineups.

CTV News reached out to Service Canada and was told the family would need to sign a waiver to release information regarding the applications.

They also said they would not be able to answer other questions Thursday, including how long it’s currently taking to process applications.

Just over a week away from the family’s flight to California on June 3, with Williams’ wife Cheyenne preparing to camp out at the Vancouver passport office, a call suddenly changed everything.

Williams was on a Zoom call with CTV News when Cheyenne called to let him know she had been contacted by the passport office, and the children’s passports would be ready for pick-up next Monday.

“All I know is it’s done, so that’s amazing,” Williams said. “It would have been so devastating if we didn’t go.”

Williams is still hoping for more help for others who are still waiting.

“I just want somebody in government to go look at these stories. Obviously we’re not the only ones in this kind of a situation,” he said. “To me, this bit of happiness is just everything.”