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

32228 Buffalo Drive, Mission
2020 Christmas light displays in Mission and Abbotsford

Local homes in both communities are all lit up for the holidays

Abbotsford's Jada Klein
Abbotsford’s Jada Klein releases debut EP

Fresh off FVMA win, Robert Bateman grad’s ‘Always, Forever’ album arrives online

Abbotsford Christian Middle School staff and students were asked in a Nov. 15 letter, to self-isolate until Nov. 24. (File photo)
Fraser Health lists 3 more Abbotsford schools with COVID-19 exposures from Nov. 18 to 23

ACS, MEI and Abbotsford Traditional Senior Secondary listed

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (File photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
Abbotsford care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)
Former Pitt Meadows mayor suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from John Becker says anxiety and depression played role

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Most Read