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

(Sarah Grochowski/Aldergrove Star)
(Sarah Grochowski/Aldergrove Star)
(Sarah Grochowski/Aldergrove Star)
(Sarah Grochowski/Aldergrove Star)

It began Tuesday (Aug. 18) – metal posts being shunted into the ground by heavy machinery and American workers near the Canadian border.

Starting in areas adjacent to Ross Road in Abbotsford, which is separated from the U.S. by a small ditch, a one-metere high fence of cable barriers began to be erected.

It is between those same roads that Americans and Canadians have met during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the border remains closed to non-essential traffic.

On Wednesday, Canadian families were still seen meeting with their American counterparts in the Double Ditch Road on Zero Avenue in Aldergrove.

Their cars were parked on either of the parallel U.S. and Canadian highways.

RELATED: Families separated by B.C. border restrictions again meeting ‘in the ditch’ on roads along the border

It’s something Langley residents have expressed concerns about in recent weeks, considering the rate of COVID-19 infections in Washington State, which sits at more than 68,000 total confirmed cases and more than 1,800 deaths.

Langley’s Sandra Leone was riding her bike along Zero Avenue Sunday afternoon when she witnessed groups of people on either side of the ditch visiting one another.

“There was one group we saw of at least 12 people, young and old. None were wearing masks and all were engaged in close contact – lots of hugging, talking, and laughing,” she stressed.

READ MORE: U.S./Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

Leone called it an “out of place” and “dangerous practice, what has gone on along Zero Avenue during the pandemic: “It needs to be stopped immediately.”

She added: “Is this not the perfect way to spread the virus from one country to another?”

By Wednesday afternoon, the fence continued west to Bradner Road, spanning approximately 3.8 kilometres.

United States Border Patrol’s Blaine sector is currently overseeing the construction project on the international boundary between the United States and Canada, and it does not appear to have anything to do specifically with COVID.

The project addresses what acting chief patrol agent Tony Holladay calls bi-national safety concerns related to a “vulnerable section” of the border located between Boundary Road in the U.S. and Zero Avenue in Canada.

The construction project involves the installation of a cable barrier system along this section of the border to prevent vehicles from either accidentally, or purposefully, crossing the boundary and endangering citizens in both countries.

“This safety cable barrier not only protects people in the United States and Canada, but it also aids in securing this portion of the border by deterring illegal vehicle entries in both directions,” Holladay said.

“Locally, in our community, transnational criminal organizations have capitalized on this vulnerable area by smuggling both narcotics and people. The enhancement to this specific border area mitigates the threat posed by these dangerous criminal enterprises.”

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