Could the Boundary Bay crossing be used as a pilot project to re-open the Canada/US border for the first time in 14 months? That’s what the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce is proposing to B.C. and Washington State health officials.
Point Roberts’ current population sits at just under 1,000 of which 80 percent is now fully vaccinated. With B.C.’s rapidly increasing first vaccination rate, the business organization believes there is no better location for a controlled re-opening on a trial basis. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the border being closed to non-essential travel back in March 2020.
“We would like to present a proposal for a pilot project that would provide an opportunity to re-open one section of the US/Canada border in an isolated yet controlled area, thereby allowing Washington State’s Department of Health and the Province of BC’s Ministry of Health to monitor and evaluate events before an expanded border reopening is considered,” said Point Roberts Chamber president Brian Calder in a letter to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Umair A. Shah, Secretary of Health for Washington State.
“All traffic, whether northbound into Canada or southbound into Point Roberts, must cross the (Boundary Bay) international border crossing. By focusing the pilot project on the small community of Point Roberts with just one land access point, the project can be more easily managed, assessed and controlled.”
The Chamber proposal is the latest from the isolated community to potentially accelerate the border re-opening.
Point Roberts Fire Chief Christopher Carleton, who has overseen the community’s vaccine rollout, wrote letters last month to various levels of government offering his department’s services to use excess supply to inoculate US citizens living in Metro Vancouver, along with Canadians via a drive-thru clinic.
Many Point Roberts businesses rely heavily on cross border customers while 75 percent of the real estate is owned by Canadians, primarily as vacation homes.
Last week, Governor Jay Inslee announced a full re-opening of Washington State on June 30 and also suggested he would like to see progress at the federal level on the re-opening of the Canada/US border.
“We understand the cautiousness of both US and Canadian political and health officials to reopen the border – public health and safety must be paramount! We can assure you that our primary concern is the ongoing health and safety of our residents and our community,” added Calder. “But we believe that the high number of fully vaccinated residents in our community and the increasing number of B.C. residents who have received their first vaccine presents an opportunity to consider a controlled border reopening.“The border will reopen at some point, and we believe a pilot project is a necessary first step so that any issues that may be identified can be addressed before a large-scale border reopening is implemented. A cross-border initiative such as this will allow health officials in both Washington State and BC to decide in advance what rules, if any, will need to be put in place beforehand.”