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

An electrical vehicle charging station on Fort St. across from the Hope Legion appears to have suffered extensive damage. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Electric vehicle charging station in Hope vandalized

Cables were cut to all four charging stations at a soon-to-be-opened lot on Fort St.

Kastor Hansen gets the right timing on the double-Dutch ropes, cheered on by principal, Bruce Becker. For the past 10 years, Becker has been Silver Creek Elementary’s principal, he is now moving on to become principal at Coquihalla Elementary School. (Barry Stewart/Hope Standard)
Bruce Becker to be Coquihalla Elementary’s new principal, leaving role at Silver Creek open

Longtime SD78 educators Monique Gratrix and Peter Flynn are retiring

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

AdvantageHOPE is working with Boston Pizza to find a franchisee for a Hope location. (Facebook/AdvantageHOPE photo)
Boston Pizza eyeing Hope for new location

With over 395 locations Canada-wide, company is looking to expand to Hope

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read