Update coming July 4 in the Sunday edition of News for RVers
The Washington-based staff at RVtravel.com recently became aware of one of the strangest and potentially economically devastating situations being driven by the pandemic and the closure of the border between the U.S. and Canada. Every day, the situation for local residents becomes more dire.
KING 5 Television in Seattle is reporting (see news clip below) that the only grocery store in tiny Point Roberts, Washington, is set to close July 15 due primarily to the border closure coupled with Point Roberts’ unique geographical location.
A GEOGRAPHIC ANOMALY
Point Roberts is the only town on a tiny peninsula of land just south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Problem is, Point Roberts is dangling just over the U.S. border with Canada, making it a very unique part of Washington state.
Ali Hayton, owner of the International Marketplace in Point Roberts, said her business just can’t hold on any longer as the prolonged border crossing closure stretches into at least late July. Hayton told KING 5 that the store was dependent on customers and suppliers from Canada, and that the closure has made it impossible to stay in business and serve the tiny community of 1,000 residents just below the 49th parallel.
“I feel we need to help if we can,” said RVtravel.com publisher Chuck Woodbury. “These Americans are being hung out to dry. I feel strongly that my staff and I, along with RVtravel.com readers, can and must do something to help.”
Hayton’s store currently employs 10 people, down from the usual 15. It’s still the largest – and practically only – business left in town. Her store usually saw more than 8,000 customers a week during summer months. In the past 15 months, she said she hasn’t seen a total of 1,800 shoppers. “I can’t keep losing $30,000 a month,” she said.
The Point Roberts, Washington, fire chief is warning of a humanitarian crisis if the community’s lone grocery store closes.
To reach the rest of Washington, Point Roberts residents must cross the border twice – once to head north off the peninsula, and once to head south again to cross into the U.S. at Blaine, Washington.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that the border will remain closed to non-essential traffic at least through July 21. The community of Point Roberts would like an exemption to be granted to basically allow non-essential border crossings at the Boundary Bay Port of Entry.
Tara Lee, a spokesperson for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, told KING 5 that the governor is aware of the issue and has been working with his Canadian counterparts. Both Governor Inslee and British Columbia Premier John Horgan have advocated for relief for Point Roberts residents in recent communications with their respective federal governments.
It’s a unique problem brought on by the pandemic and illustrates the ripple effect of the closure on communities on both sides of the border.
Within a day or two, RVtravel.com will have information about how you can help the citizens of this small community and Ms. Hayton’s store get through this perilous time.