More than a dozen tents were pitched in Peace Arch Park Monday, however, residents in the area said up to 85 were spotted in the park on Sunday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

More than a dozen tents were pitched in Peace Arch Park Monday, however, residents in the area said up to 85 were spotted in the park on Sunday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

‘It looked like Woodstock’: More than 85 tents pitched in Peace Arch State Park Sunday

Despite B.C. health orders limiting gatherings, many still exploiting border ‘loophole’

Residents living along 0 Avenue in South Surrey are sounding the alarm after more than 85 tents were set up in Peace Arch Park Sunday, the day after strict new provincial health orders were put in place to prohibit people from gathering outdoors.

“It looked like Woodstock,” a nearby resident told Peace Arch News Monday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry held a rare Saturday press conference Nov. 7, where she announced a provincial health order restricting people from gathering – outdoors or indoors – with people outside of their immediate household in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

The order, it seems, was of little concern to Canadians who wished to visit Americans on the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park.

“It’s utter chaos,” resident Jim Purdon told Peace Arch News Monday. “And this has been an ongoing saga for months and months and months.”

The park, on the Canadian side, has been closed as a safety measure to prevent large gatherings in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic declaration in March.

But the State Park, on the U.S. side, has remained open through the summer and fall, providing a daily site for camping, wedding parties, family reunions and celebrations of all kinds.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases with more than 10 million. The county is also home to the most deaths, with 238,000 and counting.

As of Monday, Washington State has had 117,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19. British Columbia has had 18,714 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

RELATED: ‘Loophole’ allows U.S.-Canadian citizens to continue to meet at Peace Arch Park

Visiting the park as a Canadian is considered by many to be a loophole. It’s one of the few, if not only, locations where Canadians can meet Americans without going through customs.

Nearby resident John Kageorge said the number of tents in the park has been steadily growing since the border was closed.

“It was as if Dr. Bonnie Henry’s words were never uttered,” Kageorge said when asked to describe the park Sunday.

“The park was over the brim with people as it has been with all weekends since June. It seemed as if there was no request for everyone to stay out of group gatherings.”

“People that are accessing that park don’t seem to really care.”

Asked about enforcement of Canadians returning from the park, 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 cases related to people meeting outdoors at that park,” Henry said.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the traffic along 0 Avenue has been a point of frustration for nearby residents. Parking spaces are at a premium, and some residents have raised concern about the virus.

RELATED: South Surrey woman upset at being told to quarantine after ‘two-minute visit’ in Peace Arch Park

“How people can drive from wherever, park their cars, walk over there, spend the day there with Americans and come back. Nobody’s isolating or anything like that. It’s a loophole that nobody seems to want to touch,” Purdon said.

In September, police increased patrols in the area but did not institute a new policy or specific campaign.

While it’s not recommended, people are allowed to mingle in the park because the U.S. has left the State Park open. However, RCMP officers waiting on the Canadian side can instruct a returning Canadian to report to CBSA.

The CBSA can, and has, subjected returning Canadians to a 14-day quarantine, regardless of how long the person spent in Peace Arch Park.

CBSA told PAN last month that all travellers seeking entry into Canada, “no matter where or what mode of entry,” must report to CBSA and may be subject to quarantine measures.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

British ColumbiaCoronavirusUnited States

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

Just Posted

Kevin Davey with Heritage Village long-term care facility holds a bag open as Lucyanne Carruthers of Panago Pizza in Sardis stacks some of the 35 pizzas to be given to the seniors’ residence on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Pizzeria owner continues to bring free lunches to Chilliwack seniors in long-term care

Even during COVID, Lucyanne Carruthers of Panago has been giving pizza lunches to Heritage Village

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Downtown Chilliwack BIA executive director Kyle Williams promoting the buy local ‘Shopportunity’ program that launched mere days ago. (Screenshot)
Downtown Chilliwack Business Improvement Association parts ways with Kyle Williams

BIA president Ruth Maccan said the association ‘will have a new look in 2021’

An anonymous person has decorated a tree and posted a sign encouraging others to do the same on the Teapot Hill Trail, and Bill Wojtun shared the idea on Facebook. (Facebook photo)
Could Cultus Lake’s Teapot Hill become Holiday Hill this Christmas?

An anonymous person is encouraging people to decorate trees on the local trail

Darwin Douglas, All Nations Cannabis CEO, and Cheam First Nation councillor. (Darwin Douglas/ Facebook)
Provincial reps a no-show at cannabis roundtable with All Nations Chiefs

Provincial snub was ‘disappointing but also somewhat expected’ says All Nations CEO

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

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

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, representing the Sto:lo Tribal Council, is one of five signatories on an op-ed issued Dec. 4, 2020 in response to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report: In Plain Sight Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Healthcare. (Submitted)
OP-ED: Fraser Health and Indigenous leaders respond to report on racism in healthcare

‘We remain committed to real change, ending racism in our system’

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read