South Surrey resident John Kageorge describes this small tent city that sprang up on the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park as a ‘typical weekend.’ RCMP confirm they have stepped up enforcement along the portion of the international boundary where Canadians have been free to come and go across a narrow ditch while the border remains closed to non-essential travel. (John Kageorge photo)

South Surrey resident John Kageorge describes this small tent city that sprang up on the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park as a ‘typical weekend.’ RCMP confirm they have stepped up enforcement along the portion of the international boundary where Canadians have been free to come and go across a narrow ditch while the border remains closed to non-essential travel. (John Kageorge photo)

LETTERS: Park loophole represents complete failure to protect Canadians

Editor:

An open letter to MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, MLA Stephanie Cadieux, Mayor Doug McCallum:

I live in South Surrey and I have a major concern regarding our border protection services and COVID health protocols not being followed at the Peace Arch Park.

Our public health and safety is at immediate risk based on the public gatherings going on in the park with American citizens. It looks like a smugglers’ and COVID paradise, with no visible security watching.

Recently, I was driving west along 0 Avenue. The whole time, I was following a pickup truck from Alberta, and by coincidence, this truck decided to drive by Peace Arch Park. I had heard that people were gathering in the park for international visits and I was curious.

I was not prepared for the utter shock of people and tents set up in the park and I pulled over to take stock of what I was seeing. Not only was it hard to find a parking spot, but I ended up watching the Alberta driver and passenger greet a U.S. family and share hugs. It looked like they were going to have a picnic, like so many others. So much for international public health safety protocols.

During this surge of infections our public health officer has asked us to drastically reduce our bubble, not travel outside of our region and avoid family gatherings. Basically, stay at home other than essential travel.

Federally, our border is closed to all but essential travel and those returning from the USA must quarantine for two weeks.

Why are our Canadian border guards not protecting us by intercepting these people returning to the Canadian side after direct contact with Americans?

Why is our RCMP not taking licence plates for contact tracing and mandatory two-week isolation?

Why are Surrey bylaw officials not enforcing safe distancing in a public park and discouraging this behaviour?

This is a complete failure of public health, safety and border protection. I saw no Canadian border guards patrolling the situation, so how do we know if illegal immigrants, criminals or contraband, let alone the COVID-19 virus is not coming back with those Canadians returning to their vehicles?

Why are we not being protected?

This lack of federal, provincial and municipal enforcement of critical protocols is very disturbing and needs to be prioritized, ASAP.

I find this situation most unsettling and a little frightening from a national security point of view.

Mike Beeney, South Surrey

CoronavirusLetter to the Editor