B.C. Premier John Horgan received his first official government visitor Tuesday, greeting Washington Governor Jay Inslee to talk about issues of mutual concern, including train connections, trade and climate change.
Inslee is the first Washington governor to visit Victoria since 1984. He arrived on the MV Coho ferry in a downpour Tuesday morning and gave a speech in the B.C. legislature after a private meeting with Horgan.
In his address to MLAs, Inslee stressed the need to cooperate in the fight against climate change, warning of increased forest fires, flooding and the decline of Pacific salmon. He emphasized the need to continue co-operation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pricing carbon dioxide.
Among those projects is a West Coast electric highway, with vehicle charging stations from “B.C. to B.C.” or Baja, California, Inslee said. Taking questions after the speech, Inslee said he is waiting for a report on an ambitious high-speed rail link up the West Coast, and he is “bullish” on the opportunity to find a way to finance and build the line.
Horgan welcomed Inslee to the legislature, emphasizing the Indigenous history of the West Coast from Alaska to Puget Sound for thousands of years.
Horgan called for improved transportation links with Washington, in addition to the rail links, highway crossings and ferry runs that already connect the two jurisdictions. They include increased harbour flights from B.C. to Seattle, which Horgan calls “the nerd bird” for technology workers.
“The biggest challenge has been, on increasing harbour air traffic between Seattle and Vancouver, Canadian Border Services,” Horgan said. “And I’ve discussed this with the Prime Minister as recently as as last week, when it comes to the nerd bird and getting our air travel more seamless. If we’re going to have high-speed rail, we’re going to need to have border checks, customs activity done along the way.”