SURREY (NEWS 1130) — A Vancouver woman is disappointed by the province’s decision to close Peace Arch park and planned to go there for one more time beforehand.
The province says the area will close at 8 p.m. Thursday due to public health concerns and a recent doubling in visitors to the park as families separated by the border closure try to see each other.
Chelsea Renaud said she’s one of them, and she plans to race to see her Bellingham-based partner in the park before it shuts down.
“The fact that it is cut short is very disappointing, but I am also grateful for this time that we have had. I think we’ve been able to see each other about eight times now,” she said.
“It’s hard because that was our only way of really seeing one another,” Renaud added.
This is going to hit some people hard:
The province closing #peacearch park over safety concerns.
It shuts down tonight and will remain closed for an undetermined period.
#BCPoli #covid19 @bcpoli pic.twitter.com/1aLYHP8iwb
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) June 18, 2020
“We’re going to have to go back to communicating via phone and Facetime, which, at the end of the day, just isn’t as good.”
Renaud admitted she has noticed the parking lot at the park has been getting more full on weekends.
BC Parks had closed all provincial parks to help limit the spread of COVID-19, but Peace Arch reopened May 14.
Since then, the province said parking lots and local access roads have been overwhelmed with nearly twice the number of vehicles compared to peak days in the summer season, resulting in illegal parking.
“Attendance has doubled over the same period compared to last year, leading to an increase in pedestrians along roadways.”
Measures taken to manage the risks of increased visitors from both sides of the border were not enough, says the province.
“BC Parks understands the importance of unification for families and friends,” says a release. “Through exemptions to the Federal Quarantine Act, the federal government is now allowing immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to enter Canada to be with an immediate family member for a period of at least 15 days, as long as they are asymptomatic of COVID-19 and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to July 21.