Point Roberts Registered Voters' Association
The origin of PRRVA, as remembered by Ruby White …
In the late 60s, Whatcom County appointed its first County Planner, Harry Fulton, a recent graduate of UBC. He expressed interest in Point Roberts and encouraged us to form a committee, composed of both full and part time residents to represent our community. We formed the Point Roberts Community Association (PRCA).
Soon after, we began to experience problems at the Canadian border crossings while attempting to bring our purchases home from Bellingham and Blaine. At that time, we were limited to a forty dollar day limit on purchases from Canada and had no full service grocery store or bank. Canadian officials enforced a policy requiring us to put our purchases into plastic garbage bags and pay to have a seal put on them. At other times they demanded we have our vehicle trunks sealed.
Senator Jackson and Mr. Fulton advised us that the International Joint Commission (IJC) could resolve our problems. Fulton advised our PRCA to hold meetings and list existing problems. He said he would need the participation and sponsorship of our group to take the matter to the State Legislature to request the IJC be brought in.
We were in the midst of the meeting, continuing to discuss what issues concerned us, when a former local resident came in from Bellingham and told us the matter had already been taken to the legislature under the sponsorship of the Grange, and had been approved in Olympia. Our naive group was bewildered, but assured by Planner Fulton that this was a positive action.
A series of studies were immediately begun, headed by Dr. Manfred Vernon of Western Washington University. About the same time, the Interior Department published a booklet titled "Islands of America”. When the Vernon report came out it stated that the problems of Point Roberts are occasioned by the fact there is a resident population. The gradual reduction and elimination of that population will, in and of itself, resolve the problems.
Meanwhile, Point Roberts should become the headquarters for an International Park that would include some of the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Interestingly enough, the same proposal was included in"Islands of America" and some passages were identical with the study report.
The local Point Roberts residents abandoned their daily activities to attempt to fight off this proposal. The PRCA appealed to our Whatcom County commissioners. They supported us but then told us they could not really act on behalf of an organization that was not composed of US citizens who permanently resided in the State.
It was in a mad scramble that the Point Roberts Registered Voters’ Association (PRRVA) was formed as a non-profit corporation on April 9th , 1973.
With the help of residents of other islands, and the strong support of Senator Warren Magnuson, after almost three desperate years, the IJC went away.