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

The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Virtual public hearing held for the Lodge Property in Ucluelet

Mayor and council to make a final decision during the April 14 regular council meeting

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest as reservations open

Green Point Campground is scheduled to open from May 1 – Oct. 12 this year.

Kale is a classic in West Coast gardens.
COLUMN: Kale reigns supreme in West Coast gardens

In Tofino and Ucluelet, kale is a classic.

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Most Read