Gov. Jay Inslee announced the approval of state strategic reserve funds today to support a crucial business in Point Roberts. The small Washington community is physically isolated from the mainland United States and has experienced unique hardships during the pandemic due to the closure of the U.S.-Canada border.
Funds of $100,000 from the state Strategic Reserve Fund will help provide food security for the community and avoid a food crisis in this remote area of the state. These state funds complement federal funding support provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other COVID-19 relief legislation, which were secured thanks to the efforts of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.
The Point Roberts International Marketplace is the only grocery store in Point Roberts. The Marketplace recently announced that due to losses associated with continued closures of the U.S.-Canada border, they might be forced to close on July 15. With these funds, the grocery store will be able to retain its 10 employees and possibly add three more jobs when the border re-opens and business picks up.
“I strongly support the re-opening of the U.S.-Canada border to support our border communities in Washington and British Columbia. The Point Roberts community has been isolated due to the closure throughout the pandemic, and while all Washington communities have been impacted, the situation up there is unique,” Inslee said. “This action is a small bridge to support the entire community and retain a critical employer. I urge the U.S. and Canadian governments to take rapid and meaningful steps to reopen travel across the U.S.-Canada land border, consistent with public health guidelines.”
“Although I am extremely discouraged that we haven’t made any progress on the border re-opening, I was so grateful and relieved to hear from Governor Inslee this morning; these funds will allow us to continue serving our community,” said Ali Hayton, owner of the Point Roberts International Marketplace. “We have been so encouraged by his outreach, especially these last few weeks, and while we know he has no control over the border, we are hopeful that his continued advocacy will spur some change in Washington, D.C. As a business owner, I have never wanted a hand-out; I just want my customers back. And while these funds help stop the hemorrhaging at my business, the entire business community as well as every resident of Point Roberts needs to see an exemption at Boundary Bay so that we can ‘reopen’ along with the rest of Washington state.”
Inslee is planning a visit to Point Roberts on July 9 to engage with stakeholders and discuss issues impacting the community.
- Inslee sent a letter earlier this month to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging an immediate full or partial reopening of the U.S.-Canadian border to provide relief for individuals and communities impacted by the prolonged closure.
- The recent letter follows two previous letters the governor had sent to Prime Minister Trudeau (in August 2020 and February 2021) advocating for relief for the residents of Point Roberts.