A new online survey aims to gather input on the border-crossing habits and preferences of B.C. and Washington state residents.
Titled “Representations and Practices of the Canada/U.S. Border,” the online survey was designed by Pierre-Alexandre Beylier, a research fellow at Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) and the University of Victoria.
Beylier said that the survey went live about a month ago and will remain open through early 2020. He said that it is aimed at everyone, but particularly residents of Point Roberts, Blaine and the entire area between Burlington, Washington to the south and Surrey, B.C. to the north.
“I am trying to assess how border communities interact with the border, why they cross, how frequently they cross and if there’s a link between their proximity to the border, their crossing and the way they picture the border,” said Beylier.
The survey includes about 20 questions and takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Some of the questions are straightforward, such as the questions about your border-crossing reasons, frequency and destinations. Other questions are more esoteric, such as the questions about whether you think the border is visible, and whether you think you share a common identity with people living across the border.
“I’ve had people taking the survey in front of me, and they were sometimes puzzled by these questions,” said Beylier. “Visibility means different things for different people. Some people don’t see [the border] at all. For others, cultural differences or border controls play a role. It has to do with how they picture the border, and their own experiences at the border.”
Beylier, who is an associate professor at Grenoble Alpes University in France and wrote his PhD thesis on post-9/11 changes at the U.S./Canada border, said that the results of the survey will culminate in a research paper for BPRI and potentially a book.
“My research is really to gain a far-reaching understanding of how cross-border travel functions here in the area, and how the border structures these cross-border flows,” said Beylier.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to determine “if there is something bigger that unites B.C. and the state of Washington.” He seems to think there is. “There is such a thing as cross-border identity,” he said. “There is such a thing as Cascadia. It has a meaning in people’s territorial practices.”
To take the survey, visit bit.ly/2OXuGTC.