VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The BC Liberals are pressing Premier John Horgan to work with his U.S. counterpart in Washington state to deal with a loophole that’s allowing people from both sides of the border to continue meeting at Peace Arch Park.
Surrey-area Liberal MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say they’re concerned about the “increased volume of visitors to Peace Arch Park” at the border between Canada and the U.S.
The Canadian side of the park was closed in June amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to a spike in visitors, driven mainly by people using the park as a place to see their loved ones who live across the line.
Surrey area @bcliberals MLAs @Stephanie4BC and @TrevHal asking Premier @jjhorgan to reach out to @GovInslee and shut down the loophole that allows people to continue meeting at Peace Arch park despite #covid19 #bcpoli @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/CIRhXAJZJf
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) February 10, 2021
However, Cadieux and Halford say Canadians continue to “take advantage of an unwritten loophole that allows for face-to-face interaction on the U.S. side.”
“Canadians who visit friends and family on the U.S. side of the park are free to return home without being subject to Canadian quarantine laws,” they write. “While we appreciate the desire for families to reunite — it must be done through the proper channels and following all health guidelines, not a loophole no one wants to take responsibility for.”
Anyone coming into Canada is required to self-isolate for two weeks upon their arrival. Exemptions do apply for certain workers and people who ensure the flow of goods and services.
However, the people meeting at Peace Arch Park don’t appear to be following those rules. Locals have complained about the number of people gathering in the area, parking and traffic becoming crowded in some instances.
“Just this past weekend, local residents reported seeing busy streets and more than 75 tents pitched with people gathering from either side of the border, many without masks,” the Liberal MLAs’ letter reads, adding a number of locals report feeling unsafe.
“Currently, Washington State (sic) officials have not shown any willingness to close the American side of the park to help limit the number of people who gather,” they add.
Cadieux and Halford are calling on Horgan to call Washington state Governor Jay Inslee to address the matter and to push for Inslee to close the American side of Peace Arch Park until the border reopens.
The Liberal MLAs note the rise in the number of variant cases in B.C., saying it’s vital the province take swift action.
The RCMP says the force will continue to address the situation as they have during the pandemic and will remind people about the public health orders.
As for the Premier’s response, he said, “far be it for me to get in the way of people who love each other.” He says if Dr. Bonnie Henry raises it as an issue, then that’s when he’ll act.
-With files from Lisa Steacy