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Cascadia

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s hardly a surprise to anyone living in these parts that Seattle has stronger affinities with Vancouver than with any major US city (except maybe Portland, but Vancouver is closer, and is on the same inland body of water). Likewise for Washington State and British Columbia. Today, thanks to the Olympics and the resulting eye on our pretty little region, the NYT has an article discussing the cross-border region that some call Cascadia.

In the article, William Yardley light-heartedly notes the factionalism caused within Cascadia by the Olympics.

The northern constituency has startled some residents by draping itself in a foreign flag, alternately swaggering and fretting about “owning the podium” on behalf of something called Canada. Meanwhile, residents in the southern reaches now need passports just to get around. And when many want to catch the Games on television, the broadcasts are tape-delayed — even though the events are being played here in the homeland.

More seriously, Yardley discusses the strain the border crossing puts on the Cascadian dream. A cross-border shuttle van driver is quoted as saying, “It’s fear. Fear of the border.”

I can’t argue. Vancouver is so close — about 140 miles from our house to downtown – but the border makes it impossible to plan a trip reliably. It can take as few as 5 minutes to cross the border or as much as an hour, and you never know. And then there’s the obstacle of traffic as one approaches downtown Vancouver. I admire them for not building a highway straight in, but the result is a nuisance. Highway 99 feeds you into the Oak Street Bridge, which crosses the arm of the Fraser River that separates Richmond to the south from Vancouver to the north, and once you pass the bridge you get to drive a few miles north on Oak, zig-zagging a few blocks over to Granville at some point in order to get to the Granville Bridge, leading to downtown. The route passes through a beautiful residential area, with traffic lights every few blocks. People turn left from the left lane, blocking traffic. Busses stop frequently in the right lane, blocking traffic. You kind of have to stick to the middle lane. It’s slow.

On the other hand, so what? We’re talking about Vancouver, the most beautifully set city in North America. What’s a little traffic and a border crossing? I should jump in the car and drive up there rather than writing about it.

Well, maybe I’ll wait a couple of days. It’s a little busy up there right now.

Categories: Economy, Travel