West Coast leaders gathering in Semiahmoo for climate action conference

Christine Gregoire to keynote Peace Arch community event


Leaders in cross-border West Coast government, business and academia will meet at Semiahmoo Resort for a climate action conference Monday, September 12 and Tuesday, September 13. A free community gathering will follow at Peace Arch Park on September 13 to honor the historic landmark’s symbol of allied cross-border relations.

Microsoft and the Cascadia Innovation Corridor (CIC) are hosting the sixth annual CIC conference, “Cascadia 2050 Vision: Moving to climate action.” Governor Jay Inslee, B.C. premier John Horgan, Oregon governor Kate Brown and California governor Gavin Newsom will attend virtually, while Microsoft president Brad Smith is expected to attend in-person.

CIC is an initiative that focuses on connecting business leaders, academics and government officials to strengthen ties from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, B.C. CIC is led by the Business Council of B.C. and Challenge Seattle, a group of over 20 of the Seattle area’s largest CEOs – from Costco to REI – to address civic issues.

The initiative focuses on topics such as sustainable agriculture, higher education, technology, cross-border movement, housing and transportation, according to its website. 

Conference featured speakers will include Bob Keefe, executive director of E2, a company promoting clean energy policy; Sherri Goodman, senior fellow at the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program; Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority; Steve Metruck, Port of Seattle executive director; and Curtis Robinhold, Port of Portland executive director. Chief sustainability officers from large companies and leaders in the ultra-high speed railway will be in attendance, according to the CIC website.

Tickets are $300 for general admission, $225 for elected officials and $150 for nonprofit organizations. Sales end 11 p.m. Thursday, September 1.

Past conferences have typically had about 250 people in attendance, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Laurie Trautman is director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University and on the CIC’s steering committee. She said the conference serves as a helpful networking opportunity for people on both sides of the border to collaborate on research. 

“It’s a great opportunity for Blaine to showcase what a beautiful place it is,” she said. “We’ve been separated for a long time by the border restrictions. Blaine has experienced this in very specific ways. Having the border open again is very symbolic.”

Peace Arch community gathering

A free community gathering will take place 12:30-2 p.m. September 13 at Peace Arch Historical State Park to celebrate good relations between the U.S. and Canada. The ceremony will have speakers, local entertainment, food and refreshments. Speakers include former Washington governor Christine Gregoire, Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman and Blaine mayor Mary Lou Steward, with more expected to be added, the Microsoft spokesperson said.

Microsoft is fully funding the public event. The Microsoft spokesperson said Smith, president of Microsoft, and other CIC members had been discussing hosting the conference in Blaine since Smith visited the Peace Arch in 2017. He talked with International Peace Arch Association founder Christina Winkler during the Peace Arch’s 96th anniversary on September 6, 2017. The monument was a regional symbol they felt was worth celebrating, especially since there was no official centennial celebration for the Peace Arch last year due to the pandemic, the spokesperson said.

People entering the park from Canada should bring their passports because the B.C. side of the park is still closed, the Microsoft spokesperson said. U.S. Border Patrol and Canada Border Services Agency will be ensuring lawful event entrance. 

“It’s a celebration of the place where we live, the importance of having an international border that functions and peaceful relations with our neighbors,” Trautman said of the Peace Arch ceremony.

For more information, visit connectcascadia.com. 

This article has been updated to clarify which government officials will attend the conference virtually. 


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