Birgit Heinbach, from South Surrey, and Ian Geddes, from Blaine, aren’t able to see each other, except in Peace Arch State Park. Birgit and her husband first met Peace Arch News at the Canadian side of the park, prior to its closure. (File photo)

Surrey woman upset at being told to quarantine after ‘two-minute visit’ in Peace Arch Park

CBSA says decision to impose quarantine rules made on case-by-case basis

A South Surrey woman says she had to spend 14 days in quarantine after being in Peace Arch State Park for two minutes.

The Canada Border Services Agency says all travellers seeking entry into Canada, “no matter where or what mode of entry,” must report to CBSA and may be subject to quarantine measures.

Birgit Heinbach, who has a husband that lives in the U.S. within walking distance of her South Surrey home, visited the park on her birthday Sept. 15 to collect a newly purchased dog from her husband Ian. While the evening visit only lasted a couple of minutes, Heinbach said she had been in the park earlier that afternoon for coffee and cake.

A nearby RCMP officer informed Heinbach that she had to bring the dog to the nearby CBSA office, as all pets imported into the country must meet requirements set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Once inside the office, Heinbach said, CBSA officers told her she had to undertake a 14-day quarantine.

SEE ALSO: Canada-U.S. couple embrace only option to meet – Peace Arch Park

“There’s no reasonable reason for quarantining me,” Heinbach said, adding that officers didn’t say why she had to quarantine for a two-minute visit in the park.

“None, it’s basically because I’m going into that border booth – I’m coming by there. That’s the reason, even though I never left the country.”

Peace Arch Park is owned by both Canada and the U.S. governments. The provincial government closed the Canadian side of the park earlier this year. However, the U.S. has left the American side open. Canadians can enter the U.S. State Park by crossing a ditch on 0 Avenue.

Still, Heinbach says the, CBSA officers working the port have too much power.

“There has to be a rule for that. Otherwise the guy can do whatever because other guys before that did not quarantine me. Now this guy, for some reason he didn’t like me or whatever, he quarantined me,” Heinbach said.

Heinbach said she lost about $4,000 due to loss of work from the quarantine requirement.

In a lengthy statement to Peace Arch News, CBSA defended the move, adding that it’s their job to “protect residents of Canada and to ease the potential burden that ill travellers could place on our health care system and front line workers.”

In an email, CBSA senior spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said the RCMP, not CBSA, is responsible for monitoring areas along the international border that are not designated ports of entry.

RELATED: Canada-U.S. couple says 14-day quarantine makes border rules for families ‘illogical’

She said that when assessing admissibility, CBSA makes the decision on a case-by-case basis and consider the individual circumstances of each traveller.

“The rules are clear. All travellers seeking entry to Canada must report to the CBSA at a designated port of entry. If someone enters the U.S., no matter where or what mode of entry, they must report to the CBSA and may be subject to quarantine measures. Additionally, any traveller who accepts or retrieves goods, including personal mail, from the U.S. must report to the CBSA. This also includes all animals,” Purdy said.

Failure to report to the CBSA, Purdy added, is a serious offence that may result in penalties or charges.

Upon arrival at a port of entry, Purdy said, travellers must demonstrate to CBSA that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada and provide documentation that details their reason for travel, length of stay, as well as any information that may be relevant to substantiate how they meet exemption.

There are a number of exemptions to the quarantine rules, including for travellers who enter the country for work, a person who was invited by the Minister of Health to assist in the COVID-19 response, a member of Canadian Forces or a visiting force, and a person whom the public health officer determines will provide an essential service.

Heinbach, however, says she should have been exempt.

“I had never even left the country and they quarantined me. I’m a frontline, essential worker. For two weeks, I had nobody – for like 200 people – looking after them for rehab purposes,” Heinbach said.

Heinbach says she has no hesitation about returning to the park to visit her loved one.

Last Month, PAN reported an increased RCMP presence along 0 Avenue near Peace Arch Park. Sgt. Kris Clark of the Surrey-based federal RCMP unit tasked with border security, confirmed that patrols have increased, although he said response does not constitute a new policy or specific campaign.

“We’re responding to observation and concerns we are hearing about people congregating,” Clark said. “We’re ensuring that people are following the rules.”

The park has been a point of frustration for many residents who live on or near 0 Avenue. Concerns with parking have been raised by a number of residents to PAN, as has the number of people meeting in the park.

John Kageorge, a Canadian resident who lives near the park, described park activity as a “daily carnival scene” and “full of lawn chairs, picnics and conjugal tents.”

– With files from Alex Browne

Border Services OfficerCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Ava Hamill is taking part in Myles of Smiles virtual open mic event through Creative Compass Society. (Creative Compass Society/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Myles of Smiles virtual open mic event in need of musician submissions

Annual concert is organized by Creative Compass Society, which aims to foster emerging talent

Tom Hammel (Special to Langley Advance Times)
COVID gives Langley musician time and inspiration for new album

Collaboration brings ‘high-level’ artists together – but not literally

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Share your opinion with editor@langleyadvancetimes.com
LETTER: Langley Township council daytime meeting prevents resident involvement

A newcomer to the community is concerned about working people not being able to local politics

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for Throness uncertain as Chilliwack-Kent awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

Most Read