Aldergrove resident Georgene VanDelft met her U.S. relatives along the border on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. With the shutdown of Peace Arch park, they have had to meet ‘in the ditch’ where two roads run side-by-side along the U.S. – Canada border. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Families separated by B.C. border restrictions are again meeting ‘in the ditch’

Following shutdown of Peace Arch, people have returned to 0 Avenue in Aldergrove and Abbotsford

With the shutdown of Peace Arch Park, the Lower Mainland road that runs along the Canada-US border has once again become a meeting place for families separated by the COVID-19 closure of the border to all but essential travel.

They gather where 0 Avenue runs alongside East Boundary Road on the U.S side, with only a narrow trench separating the two routes.

Those who go there call it “the ditch,” the only place where they can see the people they care about in the flesh.

For Aldergrove resident Georgene VanDelft, it’s a poor substitute for the regular visits she used to make to her parents and siblings in Lynden and Sumas, just across the border — trips that would normally take around 20 minutes when the border crossing was open to casual trips.

“We haven’t been able to hang out,” she told a Langley Advance Times reporter on Tuesday, June 23, as the Canadian and U.S. branches of her family chatted across the ditch.

Early in the evening, VanDelft, her husband Jason and their children lined up their camping chairs on the 0 Avenue side of the ditch, while her parents, Otto and Jeanette Bouwman, sat on the U.S. side, along with sister Clarissa Chase and her kids, and brother Derrick Bouwman.

With the VanDelfts on the Canadian side was Derrick’s girlfriend, Mekayla Knol, who explained the couple has been kept apart since border crossings were restricted in March.

“We’ve been meeting each other in the ditch, pretty regularly,” Knol said.

They had been meeting “three times a week” at the Peace Arch Park, Derrick said, but that option disappeared on June 18, when the park was ordered closed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

According to a ministry statement, too many people were turning up at the park to meet family from the other side of the border, creating massive congestion and overwhelming available parking.

READ ALSO: Peace Arch Park to close amid dozens using it as loophole in COVID-19 border restrictions

“They (the ministry) aren’t seeing that this is affecting regular people,” Derrick said.

Otto said the border shutdown has “profoundly impacted” his family, causing “substantial stresses and strains.”

Georgene would like to see rules adjusted to allow for close families like hers, so that her mother could come across the line.

“Right now, if my mom came up to visit me, she’s supposed to stay for 14 days before she goes back. You should be able to visit each other in your home.”

She said her family is “eagerly” looking forward to the day when they can once again visit each other freely.

“Nobody likes to sit in a ditch,” Jason observed.

READ ALSO: Abbotsford woman launches petition to reopen Peace Arch Park to see fiance

On the day Georgene’s family met at the ditch, about a dozen other people could be seen nearby in small groups, having similar cross-border get-togethers.

“If you come down on a Saturday, it’s [packed]. You may not be able to find a parking spot,” Derrick said.

Many, Jeanette observed, were young couples like Derrick and Mekayla, separated by the shutdown.

“It’s like lovers’ lane,” she said.

On the day of their visit, Langley RCMP could be seen on the Canadian side, apparently patrolling for speeders down the congested road, while a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle could be seen monitoring the American side.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AldergroveCoronavirusUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Aldergrove resident Georgene VanDelft met her U.S. relatives along the border on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. With the shutdown of Peace Arch park, they have had to meet ‘in the ditch’ where two roads run side-by-side along the U.S. – Canada border. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Ranil Prasad saw this poster near Surrey Central SkyTrain station on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. He said it expressed “some specific reference to white replacement theory.” (Photo: Ranil Prasad/@run_neil/Twitter)
Surrey man urges public to watch out for ‘white replacement theory’ posters

Ranil Prasad said he saw the messaging at a Surrey SkyTrain station

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Construction of Douglas College's Surrey Campus in 1970. (Photo: Douglas College Archives)
PHOTOS: Douglas College’s Surrey roots at a B.C.-first campus in 1970

The official date of the Douglas/Kwantlen split was April 1, 1981

B.C.’s parliament building, Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
ZYTARUK: Votes come at a premium price. Time to pay the tab

Promises are rained upon the voting public much like confetti being blasted from the maw of a cannon, or particles of ash spewn from an erupting volcano

Loretta Hibbs (right), founder and president of Surrey-based City Dream Centre, with Kelly Voros (foreground), the organization's executive administrator. (submitted photo)
‘Pumpkin patch’ brought to Surrey inner-city schools where COVID cancelled field trips

Work done by volunteers with Surrey-based City Dream Centre

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers and staff by parents must stop, Chilliwack soccer club says

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Most Read