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

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

Students across school district watched videos and did activities geared towards mental health. (Special to The News)
National day of mental health marked by Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district

Child and Youth Mental Health Day started by FamilySmart in 2007

Annette Code passed away in 2017. (Special to The News)
A special room at Pitt Meadows Museum dedicated to Code

Annette Code was a long-time museum volunteer, school board trustee

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

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

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

Most Read