Blog “Cascadia: More Than A Dream”

Miro Cernetig of the Vancouver Sun takes a in-depth look at the economic and environmental firmament of North America’s upper lefthand corner, in an article titled, “Cascadia – More Than A Dream.”

Where you will find Cascadia…is in the mindset of the millions of people who live on the continent’s western edge…Cascadia’s guiding principle today isn’t nationhood but what might be best called regionhood — the sense that Alaska, the Yukon, B.C., Alberta and the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho — often share similar regional goals and ambitions….these range from environmental issues, a heightened sense that their collective futures are tied to the Asia-Pacific and a desire for more autonomy from federal governments that are thousands of kilometres to the east, in Ottawa and Washington, D.C., and often out of touch with the big questions to the west.
In fact, when taken as a whole, Cascadia has evolved into a powerful economic entity with clout its members alone can never hope to wield. If you add up the states’ and provinces’ individual GDPs and populations, Cascadia is a significant geographic area and market: It comprises a market of more than 20 million people and what would be the world’s eighth-richest nation, with a GDP of about $848 billion US, according to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the entity that was formed in 1991 by the legislators of Cascadia’s provinces and states. Those same leaders will be in Anchorage, Alaska, from July 22 to 26, to continue their work to foster regional cooperation and the idea of an economic bloc.

Cernetig notes B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell sees joint efforts to control global warming as a unifying principle in Cascadia, and that Campbell believes California is more and more part of the region, in part due to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leadership role in forging alliances to address climate change. One example is an emerging Western states policy allowing clean and polluting industries to trade capped carbon emission allotments.
Other threads tie together Cascadia, writes Cernetig. These include agreement to shape a unified strategy making West Coast ports more seamless for Asia-Pacific shippers; an ongoing push to boost U.S.-Canada passenger rail; emphasis on developing shared strategies to advance alternative vehicle fuel technologies; and the evolving possibility of a joint Seattle-Vancouver bid for hosting the Olympics or World Cup. A “two-nation vacation” is glimpsed above right, looking down upon B.C.’s Harrison Lake, Harrison Hot Springs, the Fraser River and south to Washington’s Mount Baker.

“I think at long last the idea of Cascadia is beginning to get some real traction,” said Bruce Agnew, who heads the Cascadia Center For Regional Development, a Seattle-based think-tank that counts the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as one of its benefactors. “It was the people in Ottawa, who said it was just a western separatist thing, part of that old Ecotopia thing. But Cascadia is an idea that has staying power. In terms of trade, regional transportation, tourism, climate change and alternative energy, there are common interests in this region that make Cascadia a real thing.”

For more insight on Cascadia, a good source is “The Character of Non-Governmental Transborder Organizations In The Cascadia Region of North America.”