Carla Qualtrough says she has “a ton of sympathy” for Canadians who can’t get to their cottages and boats in Point Roberts, but the Delta MP isn’t sure when they’ll be able to cross the line again.
Qualtrough was reacting to an online petition that seeks a relaxation of travel restrictions so Canadians can cross into the American peninsula to perform routine maintenance. As of July 3, more than 2,100 had signed.
Aimed at government officials on both sides of the border, the change.org petition started by Kevin McIntosh states many Canadians own cottages and boats in Point Roberts they have been unable to check on since the Canada-U.S. border was closed to non-essential travel more three months ago.
Qualtrough said she has been in talks with cabinet colleagues in Ottawa as well as people locally in an effort to find a solution that might suit the geographic anomaly, but has yet to come up with one.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see a world where we don’t treat the whole border the same,” she told the Optimist when asked about the unique circumstances in Point Roberts.
She said the best hope for those with property in Point Roberts might be a gradual reopening of the border by region or by type of visitor that could broaden the definition of essential travel.
Qualtrough added that Ottawa has been in constant contact with the U.S. government on the border issue, and the two countries have been on the same page thus far, but said ultimately it’s up to the U.S. to determine who is allowed to enter the country.
McIntosh, who believes it’s fairly likely the border closure will be extended, stated he’s been unable to maintain or remove his boat moored at the Point Roberts Marina. He said not only has he been unable to enjoy the use of his boat, but the downside of prolonged inattention could be needless environmental damage to the marina environment.
The petition states: “I propose a special dispensation allowing Canadians access to their property, boats and animals in Point Roberts, WA to perform maintenance, removal or care functions under controlled conditions, i.e. no contact with local residents for business or pleasure purposes.”
Many who have signed the petition own cottages in Point Roberts and worry that without regular maintenance they will fall into disrepair. They raise concerns over rats and raccoons causing damage to vacant buildings as well as the possibility of leaks and other issues. There are also worries about insurance not being valid if structures are unattended for months on end.
Many suggest that crossing the border to check on property should be deemed essential travel so long as those who cross only go to and from their properties.