Cascadia Ecolopolis Study Series:
Ecolopolis is a series of studies done as a graduate program offered each year by PSU professor. They focus on a different aspect of the Cascadia bioregion each year, and help support research for ideas like high speed rail and other urban and regional planning integration.
Ecolopolis 5: High Speed Rail in Cascadia
The area from Vancouver B.C. down to Portland has been termed an emerging megaregion by the National Committee for America 2050, a coalition of regional planners, scholars, and policy-makers as well as the Canadian and US governments. A megaregion is defined as an area where “boundaries begin to blur, creating a new scale of geography”. These areas have interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems link these population centers together. This area contains 17% of Cascadian land mass, but more than 80% of the Cascadian population.
This idea of Cascadia as an economic cross-border region has been embraced by a wide diversity of civic leaders and organizations. The “Main Street Cascadia” transportation corridor concept was formed by former mayor of Seattle Paul Schell during 1991 and 1992.Schell later defended his cross-border efforts during the 1999 American Planning Association convention, saying “that Cascadia represents better than states, countries and cities the cultural and geographical realities of the corridor from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C.” Schell also formed the Cascadia Mayors Council, bringing together mayors from cities along the corridor from Whistler, BC, to Medford, Oregon. The council last met in May, 2004.
Cascadia exhibits binational and regional cooperation, governing bodies as well as cross-border NGOs. These ties continue to be strengthened through initiatives such as the establishment of a cross-border state ID card in 2006, the ‘Pacific Coast Collaboration’ agreement (PCC) signed by the governors of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska and the premier of British Columbia in 2008, the bioregional ‘Cascadia Mayors Council’ founded in 1996 and the establishment of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region in 1991, a regional U.S.-Canadian forum in which all legislative members and governors are voting members, along with a consortium of the regions most powerful non-profit, public and private sector companies.
PNWER is recognized by both the United States and Canada as the “model” for regional and bi-national cooperation that provides the public and private sectors a cross-border forum that legal scholar Andrew Petter, a former BC cabinet minister and President of Simon Fraser University,describes as one of North America’s most sophisticated examples of “regionalist paradiplomacy”.PNWER is the only statutory, non-partisan, bi-national, public/private partnership in North America.
Other cross-border groups were set up in the 1990s, such as the Cascadia Economic Council and the Cascadia Corridor Commission.The region is served by several cooperative organizations and interstate or international agencies, especially since 2008 with the signing of the Pacific Coast Collaborative which places new emphasis on bio-regionally coordinated policies on the environmental, forestry and fishery management, emergency preparedness and critical infrastructure, regional high speed rail and road transportation as well as tourism.
Under some definitions, Cascadia is energy sufficient, due to the high propensity for renewable energy resources (mostly hydroelectric and geothermal) and supplies many other western states such as California and Idaho with some electricity.
Cascadian Bioregionalism | What is Bioregionalism? | As a Megaregion | About Ecoregions