Peninsula residents hoping to enjoy a summertime picnic in the park will now have to scratch Peace Arch Park off their list of potential destinations.
The Canadian side of the park, which straddles the international boundary at the Peace Arch/Douglas border crossing, has been closed since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will remain that way for at least the next three months, the Ministry of Environment has confirmed.
Ministry officials said in late March that the park would not reopen until all COVID-related border restrictions have been lifted. On Wednesday (June 29) the federal government extended those restrictions until at least Sept. 30.
In response to a request for an update following Wednesday’s announcement, an environment ministry rep confirmed to Peace Arch News via email that as long as COVID border restrictions and vaccination requirements are in place, the Canadian side of Peace Arch Park will remain closed.
“The open nature of the park makes it highly challenging … to implement the required measures such as checking for vaccinations,” the rep explained.
“In order to re-open Peace Arch Park, we would need to put measures in place to ensure that visitors were meeting the border requirements and that is not feasible at this time.
“BC Parks is continuously monitoring border entry and park safety measures to ensure the eventual re-opening of Peace Arch Provincial Park once all COVID-related border restrictions are lifted.”
While the U.S. side of the park has remained open throughout the pandemic, the Canadian side was closed to the public in June 2020, to address “the public safety and traffic concerns in neighbouring communities, due to a significant increase in the number of park visitors.”
At the time, the border between Canada and the U.S. was closed to all but essential commercial traffic and many people had been taking advantage of a loophole that enabled cross-border couples and families to reunite at the park, overwhelming parking lots and local access roads, and raising concerns among residents on the neighbouring Semiahmoo First Nation reserve land about the potential transmission of COVID-19.
Under the now-extended regulations, no COVID-19 test is required for people who are considered fully vaccinated, however they must still fill out the ArriveCAN app or website prior to entry.
Unvaccinated travellers who qualify for entry must follow a series of steps before and after entering Canada.
All travellers crossing at the land border may still be subject to a random COVID-19 test upon entry.
- with files from Tracy Holmes