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Point Roberts Still Isolated 10 Months After Canada-U.S. Border Closure

Point Roberts is a small town near Blaine, Washington. Although Point Roberts is on U.S. soil, in order to visit anywhere else in the U.S., individuals must cross into Canada, then cross back in the United States. This is called a pene-exclave. Unfortunately, Point Roberts is the only pene-exclave in U.S. and Canada that does not have an agreement between the two countries allowing travel. The town has lost 80% of its business due to the closure and inability of U.S. and Canada to come to an agreement on this tiny town in Northwest Washington.

With the border closure, business has been very difficult for all. Ali Hayton, President of Mt. Vernon and Pt. Roberts Red Apple, owns the only grocery store in Pt. Roberts. The following is an excerpt from her summary of the situation.

“In the summer months, we see an average of 8000 customers a week; we haven't been over 1800 since March.  60-70% of all the homes on the Point are owned by Canadians - none of whom have been able to come down since then, either.  To "help", the government started a foot ferry over to the Mainland - all this did was take our customers over to Bellingham to shop at Trader Joes and Winco, depressing our business another 10% from already record low levels.  

Our store is 40,000 square feet - built and stocked to serve all of it's residents.  Max sales in the last few years have been upwards of $350,000 per week.  The last few months, we haven't even hit $60,000.  We have NEVER had to lay off an employee in all our years there.  [Due to the border closure], we've had to lay off 5 completely and we have two more that have lost insurance due to lack of hours.”

Ali’s story is just one from the dire situation in Point Roberts. This is a time where we need Washington state, United States and Canadian leaders to come to an agreement in order to help Point Roberts. An agreement must be made which will allow individuals who own property in Point Roberts to be able to travel there. Out of all the pene-exclave’s, it is still the only one without such an agreement. Without this agreement, we fear that Point Roberts may become a ghost town with no store, no business, and no residents.