A BC Ferries vessel travels in the distance past Point Roberts, Wash., on Tuesday March 13, 2012. Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

U.S.-Canada border closure hurts Washington state town

Point Roberts is only accessible by land from Canada

The border closure between Canada and the United States has severely impacted Point Roberts, Washington, which is landlocked from the rest of the country.

The extended coronavirus-induced border closure shut down two border crossings for the town of about 1,300 people, who must commute 25 miles through Canada to get to the rest of Washington state.

“We really need that border open to survive,” said Tamra Hansen, who owns the Saltwater Cafe in Point Roberts.

The economy still depends on the flow of people and resources to and from the border, which closed in March and will remain closed through at least Sept. 21, KING-TV reports.

“I rely on approximately 90% of my business from the Canadians, that come from the seasonal people,” Hansen said. “And we make our money in the summer to get through the winter.”

There is no regular ferry or air service to Point Roberts. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases reported in the town.

In 2019, 1.4 million people crossed the border into Point Roberts. So far this year, there have been just 217,000 visitors.

Gov. Jay Inslee penned a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Friday addressing these concerns. Inslee cited in his letter the need for a “practical solution to this issue” and emphasized “unique hardships” faced by Point Roberts residents.

It followed a similar letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Canada co-written by the state’s Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and two other Washington state congresspeople.

The city was created because of a quirk in the Oregon Treaty of 1846 between the United Kingdom and the United States. The two countries agreed to settle their border dispute by dividing their territories in the Pacific Northwest along the 49th parallel. But, that left the small area of Point Roberts on the southern tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula in American control.

Darryl Marquette, an employee at TSB Shipping in Point Roberts, says the shipping company has had boxes meant for Canada backlogged for months because of the border closures.

Residents like Brian Calder, a longtime resident who worked as a city councillor in Vancouver, have advocated for relief, saying that citizens of Point Roberts should be given an exemption to cross the border.

“Businesses here are down 80% — down 80%!” said Calder. “They can’t survive through this winter. Like, it’s not possible. I’m really pessimistic about the recovery here.”

Canada recently ironed out a plan to allow those in Alaska to cross the border at five specific ports using car placards to identify themselves.

Hansen worries, though, that the efforts of its citizens and lawmakers will be futile.

“All the other restaurants have closed down, the golf course is closed,” Hansen said. “Quite honestly, I probably should have just closed.”

The number of coronavirus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

ALSO READ: Metal fence erected along U.S.-Canadian backroad border amid COVID ‘loophole’ meet-ups

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusState of Washington

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The city is applying for two of the projects itself. File photo
Rossland city council throws support behind five infrastructure projects

Projects include new downtown washroom and $1-million Red Mountain race building

The Capitol Theatre has been transformed into a courtroom for the trial of Const. Jason Tait that started on Sept. 28 and continues. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Const. Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after a Castlegar incident in 2015

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read