'Locked us down and thrown the keys away': Pandemic conditions forcing some to leave Point Roberts
VANCOUVER -- Residents of Point Roberts are speaking out about living conditions in the small, isolated American community during COVID-19.
They say restrictions at the border have caused an economic freefall, forcing some to pack up and move.
Brian Calder, president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, describes the area as a "ghost town."
"Abandoned. There is nothing happening here. Nothing," he told CTV News Vancouver over the weekend.
The area is part of Washington state, but it is only accessible by land through Canada.
Since COVID-19 forced border restrictions between the two countries, the residents there found themselves even further in isolation.
"We're treated like we've committed a crime and we haven't committed any crime, so they've locked us down basically and thrown the keys away," Calder said.
It's estimated the population of full-time residents has dropped from 1,200 to 800, and of its few businesses, many are barely hanging on. Some have closed already.
To put things in perspective, people living in Point Roberts have only one place to turn for food, an independently-owned grocer called the International Marketplace.
"Why they are staying open is just for the good of the community, because they certainly aren't making money. They are down 90 per cent," Calder said.
What's more – Canadians who own roughly 75 per cent of the properties on the point are also locked out. Their homes are empty and in some cases, decaying.
"We've had some strong windstorms and I have some big trees. If something ever happened and they went down, how do I get to the house, and how do I deal with what's left?" wondered property owner Steve Deller.
Leaders in the community have been pushing on government officials on both sides of the border, but neither side has yet to come up with a solution as unique as the land itself.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Emad Agahi