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

Just Posted

Brigitte Gietema was one of more than 100 athletes who participated in the Move4Communitas fitness fundraiser for mental health. (Photo: Brigitte Gietema)
Virtual walk raises more than $13K for Communitas in Abbotsford

Move4Communitas was held over eight weeks, involving 100 participants

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Submitted)
Looking back on a rural nursing career in Hope

After a career spent working at Fraser Canyon Hospital, Jo-Dee Chisholm retires

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
UPDATE: Fire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

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

Most Read