British Columbia

Popular Washington state holiday spot for Canadians desolate due to COVID-19

The population in Point Roberts would have normally exploded by mid-May with Canadians who come annually to open up summer cabins and launch boats.

Pushing back border reopening until June makes non-essential travel to Point Roberts impossible

The general manager of the Point Roberts Marina says about 98 per cent of the boats moored there are Canadian-owned. Those owners will be unable to visit for at least another month. (pointrobertsmarina.com)

"It looks like the middle of January without the snow."

That's how Theresa Coe, general manager of a local marina, described the tiny Washington state peninsula community of Point Roberts on a May morning just after the Victoria Day long weekend.

Point Roberts, located about 35 kilometres south of Vancouver on the other side of the border, is a popular holiday spot for Canadians who normally flock to their summer cabins and boats at this time of year. 

But with the Canada-U.S. border now expected to remain closed because of COVID-19 until at least June 21, the usually bustling border town is more like a ghost town.

"It's very, very quiet," said Coe, who manages the Point Roberts Marina, where she says about 98 per cent of the boats moored there are Canadian-owned.

"We are watching out for their boats and checking their lines ... doing everything we can," said Coe Wednesday on The Early Edition.

She said the the population of Point Roberts would normally have doubled by this week, which falls between the May long weekend in B.C. and next weekend's Memorial Day holiday in the U.S.

 According to the 2010 census, its population is 1,314.

Point Roberts, Wash., has an area of 12.65 square kilometres and a population of 1,314 according to the 2010 census. (Google maps)

Locals were looking forward to travel resuming between the two countries May 21, said Coe, but the Canadian government announced Tuesday the restriction has been extended another 30 days.

"Every step, we have to make the right decisions based on the circumstances," said Prime Minister Trudeau, in announcing the decision.

Coe said the situation is unfortunate, but because Point Roberts has no hospital, and anyone needing critical care would have to be transported to Bellingham, Wash., it is for the best that everyone follow the rules.

Coe said she, herself, is not going anywhere outside of the community right now for fear of bringing the virus in. She said to her knowledge, there are currently no positive COVID-19 cases in Point Roberts.

'We are a very isolated five square mile piece of land that hangs off of Canada," she said. "It would spread like wildfire here."

To hear the complete interview with Theresa Coe on The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:

Point Roberts Marina general manager Theresa Coe speaks with Stephen Quinn about being closed off from the Lower Mainland during the pandemic. 6:45

With files from The Early Edition and Cathy Kearney

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