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 grant is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake Native Development Corporation secures provincial grant funding

To construct a new industrial mechanic shop and training space

Construction on the Beacon Theatre’s facade is expected to start by summer. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake’s Beacon Theatre to get new siding and facade

The grant has also been awarded to the village of Granisle

The village will start working on the design phase for the project. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake’s St. John’s Heritage Church revitalization to begin

A $275,000 provincial grant to help move the project forward

The level of service survey is expected to help formulate the budget and aid in improving the financial planning for 2021-2025. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Village’s level of service survey sees 157 responses

Lack of animal control, cleanliness on Radley beach among top concerns

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read