B.C. government officials say Peace Arch Provincial Park won’t reopen until Canada’s vaccine mandate is lifted because the park has open entry from the U.S., which means it will remain closed for the summer.
The Canadian side of Peace Arch Park closed in June 2020 because of Covid-19 concerns from the Semiahmoo First Nation, located just north of the park. B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy officials told The Northern Light it will not reopen until B.C. Parks can verify visitors’ vaccination status, which the ministry said is not feasible at this time. B.C. Parks and the provincial government coordinate with Semiahmoo First Nation about the management of the park since its parking lot is on tribal land.
The Public Health Agency of Canada announced June 29 that current border rules – proof of vaccination and random testing – will remain in place for at least three months.
B.C. Parks does not require proof of vaccination at any of its other parks, but ministry officials said Peace Arch Provincial Park is an exception because of its unique location along the border.
“As long as COVID border restrictions and vaccination requirements are in place, the Canadian side of Peace Arch Park will remain closed,” a ministry spokesperson said.
Before the pandemic, Peace Arch Park visitors could roam freely from the U.S. side to the Canadian side. The Canadian side has now been closed for two years, while the American side has remained open and acted as a haven for loved ones separated by border restrictions. Visitors from B.C. are able to access the U.S. side of the park via 0 Avenue.
Testing requirements for vaccinated travelers entering Canada were lifted April 1.
The ministry said the open nature of the park makes it challenging to implement a strategy to check visitors’ proof of vaccination.
A Semiahmoo First Nation spokesperson did not respond to The Northern Light’s request for comment.
“B.C. Parks is continuously monitoring border entry and park safety measures to ensure the eventual reopening of Peace Arch Provincial Park once all COVID-related border restrictions are lifted,” ministry officials said.
B.C. Parks will update the Peace Arch Provincial Park website when reopening information is available, ministry officials said.
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