A ditch marks the Canada-U.S. border and separates people walking on the road, right, in Surrey, British Columbia, and those gathered at Peace Arch Historical State Park, left, in Blaine, Wash., Sunday, July 5, 2020. Although the B.C. government closed the Canadian side of the park in June due to concerns about crowding and COVID-19, people are still able to meet in the U.S. park due to a treaty signed in 1814 that allows citizens of Canada and the U.S. to unite in the park without technically crossing any border. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

A ditch marks the Canada-U.S. border and separates people walking on the road, right, in Surrey, British Columbia, and those gathered at Peace Arch Historical State Park, left, in Blaine, Wash., Sunday, July 5, 2020. Although the B.C. government closed the Canadian side of the park in June due to concerns about crowding and COVID-19, people are still able to meet in the U.S. park due to a treaty signed in 1814 that allows citizens of Canada and the U.S. to unite in the park without technically crossing any border. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

B.C. premier says calling for closure of Peace Arch State Park a federal responsibility

Horgan said he would ‘take action’ if Canada-U.S. border park is flagged as problem by PHO

Asked if he would speak with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee about closing the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park, B.C. Premier John Horgan said management of the issue belongs with Canada’s federal government.

However, Horgan continued, if the issue of Canadians and Americans mingling at the park was flagged as a problem by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, he would “take action immediately.”

The question was posed to the premier Monday afternoon, by media following up on a letter signed by South Surrey MLA Stephanie Cadieux and Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford, both Liberals, that urged Horgan to speak to Inslee about shutting down Peace Arch State Park.

While the provincial government closed the Canadian side of the park in June, the American side, located off 0 Avenue, has remained open. The state side of the park has provided a daily site for wedding parties, family reunions and celebrations.

Over the weekend, South Surrey residents counted more than 75 tents in the park, which in some cases have been used by international couples to get reacquainted. No overnight camping is permitted in the park.

RELATED: Peace Arch Park closure ‘heartbreaking’

“I have not seen any advice from Dr. Henry that this is a major issue,” Horgan said, adding that Peace Arch Park has been “an area of concern.”

“I do speak regularly with Inslee. This is not an issue we’ve discussed. We have discussed the challenges of residents of Point Roberts, U.S. citizens who must go through Canada to get to the United States. We’ve discussed a range of issues about our economy and how integrated we are,” Horgan said.

Pressed further on the issue of Peace Arch Park, with a suggestion that it was the province that shut down the Canadian side, so Washington State could do the same, Horgan said again that it’s an issue for the federal government.

“Dr. Henry has not raised it with me that it’s a concern. If at the end of this press conference I have a voice-mail from her that tells me otherwise, I’ll be happy to get back to you,” Horgan told a reporter.

RELATED: South Surrey MLAs call on premier to ask U.S. to shut down Peace Arch Park

“My sense is that we want to encourage people to have good behaviour. If the people… are coming from the south to the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park and meeting with their loved ones for brief visits, I’m reluctant to get in the way of that.”

The park is one of few places, if not the only one, in Canada where Americans and Canadians can freely mingle without crossing a port of entry.

Halford noted that both he and Cadieux have been contacted by South Surrey residents who expressed concern about the potential spread of COVID-19 in the international park.

“At a time when COVID-19 variants could spread quickly, it’s more critical than ever to take action to protect our communities,” Halford said.

Asked about enforcement of Canadians returning from the park in November, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she often hears from people with concerns.

“As you know, there are people who monitor that park, the border itself is a federal jurisdiction and I know that they have enhanced patrols in that area. I’m not aware of any (COVID-19) cases related to people meeting outdoors at that park,” Henry said.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CanadaCoronavirusparksUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

A cougar in early February killed a family dog near Grand Forks, said Conservation Officer Mark Walkosky.
Grand Forks Conservation Officers want pet owners to be aware of area predators

Dogs have been recently been attacked and killed by wild animals near Saddle Lake

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Friday’s announcement caps years of planning by policy planners and food growers across the Boundary. File photo
Boundary food hub to go ahead as province kicks in $750,000

The hub’s Rock Creek and Greenwood operations are designed to restore “food sovereignty,” says policy planner

Blaine Penner survived an avalanche in Norns Range. Photo: Blaine Penner
West Kootenay man survives avalanche in Norns Range

Blaine Penner accidentally stepped out onto a cornice, triggering avalanche

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, eight months after the B.C. legislature approved the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 business grant fund still mostly unspent

$300 million pandemic assistance approved almost a year ago

Most Read