The resiliency of Point Roberts’ residents is the one silver lining that has emerged from the ongoing border restrictions that have decimated the economy of the isolated U.S. community for over a year and counting.
“Every day, I am astounded by the number of our residents and business owners who have stepped up to fill in the gaps brought about by the border restrictions,” said Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce president Brian Calder. “Our fire Chief and his crews who spend their weekends testing residents for COVID-19 and administering vaccines to keep our community safe, the Point Roberts Circle of Care volunteers who provide necessary assistance to our community’s most vulnerable – the elderly and disabled, who have not been able to receive support from their Canadian families for more than a year, the owners of the local supermarket and café who continue to ensure our residents have access to food, even though their businesses are not profitable…our community and our resolve have been tested repeatedly over the past year – and strengthened.”
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is progressing swiftly with U.S. President Joe Biden announcing Monday every citizen over the age of 16 will be eligible starting April 15. What that means for soon-to be all-inoculated Point Roberts’ residents remains to be seen. The Canada/U.S. border has been closed for non-essential travel for nearly 13 months and surging case numbers and new variants suggest it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
That hasn’t stopped Calder’s tireless efforts to engage with both U.S. and Canadian politicians by drawing their attention to the many issues that have been caused by blanket decisions along the U.S./Canadian border, without much consideration for the special needs of the community.
There has been some progress including Point Roberts’ residents being exempt of COVID-19 testing at the border when travelling through Canada for essential trips via the Peace Arch crossing. However, there is no relief in sight for the Canadian home owners wanting to check on their vacation properties and for the businesses that rely so heavily on those cross-border trips.
“Our community is not limited to just those living here right now,” added Calder. “It’s the many Canadians who were displaced from their homes in Point Roberts at the start of the pandemic, but continue to provide moral and financial support to the community. Point Roberts is their home, and while they are unable to return, they continue to stand with us. And it’s the Canadians who visited here and supported our local economy before the pandemic. The Canadian professionals and businesses we supported. Our ties to Canada and Canadians are undeniable, and the void is palpable.”As a tribute to the ongoing support of Canadians, Point Roberts has hung banners throughout the community in hopes that they will return soon and know how much they are appreciated and were missed.