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

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner
Kaslo performer collects stories of Black rural experience

Shayna Jones will create a performance piece about Black people ‘tucked away in the countryside’

Motorists encountered a delay on Hwy. 3B in Trail Thursday morning. Environment Canada expects up to 20 cm of snow to fall on communities between the Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass. Photo: Jim Bailey
Snow causes early morning traffic delays in Trail

Environment Canada is calling for up to 20 cm of snow to fall in the West Kootenay region Thursday

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
MY COVID STORY: From doctor to patient

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read