A BC Ferries vessel travels in the distance past Point Roberts, Wash., on Tuesday March 13, 2012. Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

U.S.-Canada border closure hurts Washington state town

Point Roberts is only accessible by land from Canada

The border closure between Canada and the United States has severely impacted Point Roberts, Washington, which is landlocked from the rest of the country.

The extended coronavirus-induced border closure shut down two border crossings for the town of about 1,300 people, who must commute 25 miles through Canada to get to the rest of Washington state.

“We really need that border open to survive,” said Tamra Hansen, who owns the Saltwater Cafe in Point Roberts.

The economy still depends on the flow of people and resources to and from the border, which closed in March and will remain closed through at least Sept. 21, KING-TV reports.

“I rely on approximately 90% of my business from the Canadians, that come from the seasonal people,” Hansen said. “And we make our money in the summer to get through the winter.”

There is no regular ferry or air service to Point Roberts. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases reported in the town.

In 2019, 1.4 million people crossed the border into Point Roberts. So far this year, there have been just 217,000 visitors.

Gov. Jay Inslee penned a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Friday addressing these concerns. Inslee cited in his letter the need for a “practical solution to this issue” and emphasized “unique hardships” faced by Point Roberts residents.

It followed a similar letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Canada co-written by the state’s Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and two other Washington state congresspeople.

The city was created because of a quirk in the Oregon Treaty of 1846 between the United Kingdom and the United States. The two countries agreed to settle their border dispute by dividing their territories in the Pacific Northwest along the 49th parallel. But, that left the small area of Point Roberts on the southern tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula in American control.

Darryl Marquette, an employee at TSB Shipping in Point Roberts, says the shipping company has had boxes meant for Canada backlogged for months because of the border closures.

Residents like Brian Calder, a longtime resident who worked as a city councillor in Vancouver, have advocated for relief, saying that citizens of Point Roberts should be given an exemption to cross the border.

“Businesses here are down 80% — down 80%!” said Calder. “They can’t survive through this winter. Like, it’s not possible. I’m really pessimistic about the recovery here.”

Canada recently ironed out a plan to allow those in Alaska to cross the border at five specific ports using car placards to identify themselves.

Hansen worries, though, that the efforts of its citizens and lawmakers will be futile.

“All the other restaurants have closed down, the golf course is closed,” Hansen said. “Quite honestly, I probably should have just closed.”

The number of coronavirus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusState of Washington

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

Just Posted

New ACT team will help Cowichan residents struggling with mental health issues

The Cowichan Valley ACT team will be one of six new teams being created across the province.

Duncan man at large after massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Bob Day making another run for mayor of Lake Cowichan

Day has served 10 years as town councillor

Ross Forrest eyes the mayor’s chair in Lake Cowichan again

Forrest served 10 years as mayor before losing the last election

Motorists should expect periodic delays and detours on Chemainus and River Roads

Work on corridor upgrade project to intensify in the weeks ahead

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

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

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read