BC – Washington Framework for Transportation, Competitiveness and Prosperity

No bonus points awarded for guessing that Gordon Campbell was behind that title (his first choice was “SharedBorderNow”). The British Columbia Premier (He who takes wonkishness to the next level, and then some) has signed this Framework agreement with his Washington State counterpart, Governor Chris Gregoire, at the conclusion of the joint Cabinet meeting between Washington and British Columbia, held October 9 in Seattle. (Holding the meeting in Seattle means the Premier can avoid that awkward moment when he welcomes the Governor and her Cabinet to the “Best Place on Earth”.)

The key here is the “transportation vision”, the same one that’s been around since at least 1994 if not 1982 (and earlier?). The usual suspects are rounded up: high-speed rail, direct harbour-to-harbour air service, “improving the movement of goods and people across our shared border”, yada, yada, yada.

Other aspects of the Framework Agreement (n.b.: “Framework Agreement” is code for: “no deliverables or outputs are implied, expressed or warranted”):

  • reciprocal credential recognition for regulated trades or professions.
  • open and non-discriminatory access to government procurement
  • explore opportunities to undertake joint purchasing (e.g., one big Office Depot order)
  • support for the bi-national Border Circulation Analysis / Cascade Gateway Strategy.

Beyond the momentus Framework Agreement, six other agreements were also signed during the B.C-Washington Joint Cabinet meeting – but only three were listed in the press release:

  • Workplan on Cross-Border Issues Relating to Firearms, Illegal Drugs and Organized Crime.
  • Agreement in Principle on Traffic Safety Collaboration.
  • Memorandum of Co-operation on H1N1 and other Public Health Threats.

Please feel free to speculate on their titles. I offer, as one possible example:

  • Framework Memorandum of Understanding on Generally Agreeing that the Pig War of 1859 was Really Unfortunate and that We Should Work Together to Ensure that it Doesn’t Happen Again (unless the pig in question falls under the “Memorandum of Co-operation on H1N1 and other Public Health Threats”).

All going according to plan, the 2010 Joint Cabinet meeting in Victoria will see the them declare their official support for the Salish Sea.


Framework for Transportation, Competitiveness and Prosperity

Preamble

The State of Washington and the Province of British Columbia,

Sharing a common border and a longstanding relationship of friendship and trust;

Recognizing that the employment and standard of living of Washingtonians and British Columbians depends significantly on open trade of goods and services;

Committed therefore to remaining the leaders in our respective countries in providing and benefiting from open and non-discriminatory access to government procurement processes and to make the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars as well;

Committed to maintaining high environmental, consumer, and health protections while at the same time desiring to address unnecessary impediments to an integrated and vibrant Pacific coast regional economy;

Recognizing the economy-wide benefits to be realized with efficient, integrated regional transportation systems;

Wishing to examine opportunities to enhance the ability of people in Washington and British Columbia to share their knowledge and skills;

Committed to exploring opportunities to coordinate action and establish partnerships aimed at ensuring security and efficiency at the border while promoting legitimate cross border trade and travel;

Desiring to strengthen regional planning and coordination to enhance action and results on shared multi-modal transportation priorities, including a shared long-term vision of a Pacific Northwest high-speed rail corridor.

NOW THEREFORE HEREBY AGREE AS FOLLOWS:

A. Regional Transportation

Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to work together to give effect to the Memorandum on Action on Regional Transportation and Planning signed at the 2009 Washington-British Columbia Joint Cabinet Meeting, as follows:

High Speed Passenger Rail Service

1.      Recognizing the potential benefits of high speed passenger rail in the Pacific coast region, Washington State and the Province of British Columbia affirm their commitment to:

  • Further develop and advance a shared vision of high-speed rail service as key to the long-term economic development of the Pacific coast region; and,
  • Jointly advocate for the extension of border clearance services without additional cost to accommodate the long-term operation of Amtrak’s second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver.

Harbor-to-Harbor Air Service

2.      Recognizing that harbor-to-harbor air service between Seattle and Vancouver has the potential to significantly enhance trade and travel opportunities in the region, Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to:

  • Jointly advocate for border clearance services without additional cost to interested air service providers in both jurisdictions in their attempt to implement international harbor to harbor air service; and,
  • Take reasonable steps within the respective authority of Washington State and the Province of British Columbia to support implementation of the proposed service.

Expediting Cross Border Movements – Border Circulation Analysis

3.      Recognizing that the bi-national Border Circulation Analysis was endorsed in the 2006 British Columbia – Washington State Transportation Protocol and subsequently supported by the 2008 British Columbia-Washington State Action Plan on Border Management, Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to:

  • Support the completion of the study and engage stakeholders in the review of recommendations, and jointly develop a coordinated Cascade Gateway Strategy and priority actions to improve capacity and efficiency of cross border travel and trade routes.

Enhancing Regional Transportation – Trans-boundary Freight Regulation and Border Transportation Management

4.      Recognizing that land ports-of-entry are key nodes and bottlenecks within the regional transportation system, Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to:

  • Cooperate on new and existing border transportation management and trans-boundary freight regulation initiatives, with a view to coordinating efforts by both jurisdictions in conjunction with other agencies towards their advancement.

Joint Management for Action

5.      To facilitate action on shared regional transportation priorities Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to:

  • Establish a management structure to cooperate on initiatives of mutual interest related to multi-modal regional transportation planning and coordination, and related bi-national transportation issues;
  • The joint structure will be comprised of an Executive Council (with membership of: Secretary of Transportation; Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure; and one Executive member from each agency) and a Working Group of senior representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation and British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat as founding members, and will work to engage other governments, departments and agencies, and business entities, subject to the direction of the Executive Council, on specific transportation issues;
  • The Working Group will be responsible for developing terms of reference and an annual action plan to be approved by the Executive Council.  The Working Group will convene periodically to manage the annual action plan and report at least annually on progress to the Executive Council;
  • Initially, the Working Group will focus on opportunities for collaboration in the areas outlined above.

B. Competiveness and Prosperity

Washington State and the Province of British Columbia commit to work together to give effect to the Memorandum to Enhance Competitiveness and Prosperity in Washington and British Columbia signed at the 2009 Washington-British Columbia Joint Cabinet Meeting, as follows:

Cooperating on government procurement

6.      Washington and British Columbia will strive to maintain their leadership in North America in providing and benefiting from open and non-discriminatory access to government procurement, encourage others to adopt similar procurement approaches and continuing to explore other areas for further cooperation.

7.      Recognizing that the combined purchasing power of Washington and British Columbia could produce significant savings for governments and taxpayers, and new efficiencies and opportunities for suppliers, Washington and British Columbia will explore opportunities to undertake joint purchasing. Results of this work, with recommendations, will be presented at the 2010 Joint Cabinet Meeting.

Minimizing impediments to a stronger regional economy through effective regulation

8.      Having demonstrated through effective regulation that jurisdictions can maintain high environmental, consumer, and health protections while addressing unnecessary burdens on business:

  • Washington and British Columbia recognize that significant progress has been made by some regulatory bodies in the United States and Canada in facilitating reciprocal recognition of credentials for regulated trades and professions.  Accordingly, they will work with our respective regulatory bodies to explore opportunities to expand reciprocal credential recognition to other regulated trades or professions, including emerging occupations common to both jurisdictions, for consideration not later than at the 2010 Joint Cabinet Meeting.
  • Washington and British Columbia will explore opportunities to identify and minimize unnecessary impediments to a more integrated and competitive regional economy.  Results of this work, with recommendations, will be presented at the 2010 Joint Cabinet Meeting.
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