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Cascadia mayors meet to discuss regional issues

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Mayors from up and down the Pacific Northwest Coast are in Whistler today (June 29) to discuss regional concerns affecting the Cascadia corridor.

More than 60 mayors from towns and cities in British Columbia, Washington state and Oregon have gathered for the Cascadia Mayors Council to talk about growth and sustainability; transportation and international border issues; and hydroelectric power and energy problems.

Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly told Pique Newsmagazine that the forums are a learning experience for him.

"A lot of the issues and problems being discussed will be ours 10 years from now," he said in a telephone interview. "I like to sit and listen so I can learn about what to avoid."

O’Reilly said concerns facing major metropolitan centres like Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are the most instructive. Mayors from all three cities will be present.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler and O’Reilly also take part in two other regional groups as well, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Howe Sound Forum. Only the SLRD has any jurisdictional power.

But O’Reilly said the CMC is starting to see itself as a group that can lobby its respective provincial, state and federal governments for help with regional issues.

"The U.S. mayors are already looking at it," he said. "There are collective benefits to being involved."

The forum’s keynote speaker will be B.C.’s newly appointed minister of state for intergovernmental relations, Greg Halsey-Brandt, who is responsible for managing relations with the government of Canada and foreign governments such as those in the U.S.

Other issues that will be discussed at the CMC meeting include tourism, housing, public safety, graffiti and the 2010 Olympic bid.

According to a CMC press release, members of the council have a mutual interest in co-operating with each other to ensure future mobility, economic strength and a healthy environment in the region.

The CMC is the brainchild of Seattle Mayor Paul Schell. This is the group’s seventh meeting since July 1998 and the first time it has convened in Whistler.

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