Loophole allows cross-border families to continue to meet at Peace Arch park
VANCOUVER -- There appears to be a loop hole for families and couples separated by the border closure between Canada and the U.S.
"There is no signage explaining it and it’s pretty unusual," said Bill Cheyney who lives in the area. "I think of any other instance where there’s kind of a shared neutral zone if you want to call it that."
Peace Arch provincial park was closed by the province on June 18 and they sited "a dramatic increase in visitation." But the section east of the arches, is not part of the closure it falls under the Washington State jurisdiction.
"We just jump the ditch," said Paul McFadden who also lives near the border. "Because it’s a neutral location between the two countries."
In a statement to CTV News a spokesperson for Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission said, "There are three entry points from 0 ave that people can use to come into the park by foot for day-use access to the park."
Meaning Canadians can cross the 49th parallel.
"There’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing illegal by stepping over the border onto the American side of the park, seeing your relative and then stepping back again," said immigration attorney Len Saunders.
Which sounds strange to most, but would allow cross-border families and couples to picnic and spend time together.
"For me all the other parks in the province are open," said McFadden. "The fact that this one is closed, I just think they could put some resources into leaving it open and then just basically monitoring it a little better."
The issue with people in Canada using the American entrance is there’s no parking lot and limited street parking, "which will create all different kinds of problems for the neighbourhood," said McFadden.
But he and others in the area recognized the border has been shut since March, and many are missing their family.
"They just want to be reconnected," he said. And now maybe they can be, unless Washington state decides to close the park itself.
"The province can’t do anything," said Saunders. "The federal government I guess could try to put up a temporary fence but I believe that that contravenes treaty laws between Canada and the U.S. which says no barriers, no fences, no barricades on the northern border."