Point Roberts gaining support for exemption from B.C. border restrictions
VANCOUVER -- The small community of Point Roberts, Wash., is getting some support in its push for an exemption to B.C. border restrictions.
Several American lawmakers are backing the Point Roberts fire chief, who wants residents from his community allowed to travel directly through Canada to the Peace Arch Border so they can get into other parts of the U.S. The drive is about 45 minutes long.
Point Roberts is geographically separated from the rest of the U.S. with water on three sides and the Canadian border to the north. There is no ferry system and travel by car requires going through B.C.
“My community is suffering disproportionately because of a lack of freedom of travel and freedom of movement,” fire chief Christopher Carleton told CTV News Vancouver.
Point Roberts, a community with about 1,000 residents, would normally be buzzing with tourists this time of year, many of them Canadian. Carleton says the border shutdown means businesses are suffering and people need to be able to shop and visit family and friends in other parts of the U.S. during the pandemic.
“There’s definitely a brewing humanitarian crisis for mental health here in my community,” he said.
The chief says he now has the support of two Washington state senators as well as two members of congress who are lobbying for a change to the rules.
But B.C. Premier John Horgan questions how travellers would be monitored if an exemption was allowed.
“This is a very sticky issue and one that I’ve discussed with the federal government and I’ll leave it in their hands to manage. The borders are not our responsibility,” the premier said.
The fire chief says that while individuals should be held accountable, an entire community shouldn’t suffer on the chance someone breaks the rules.
He says there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Point Roberts.