Atlantic Chapter

Sierra Club Atlantic is a vibrant grassroots organization that empowers people to protect, restore, and enjoy a healthy safe planet. We are your chapter of Canada’s only national grassroots environmental organization, working to bring your community’s concerns to the attention of regional and national leaders. Together, we are a credible, influential voice, working to make a better world a reality.

What are we up to?

The Atlantic Chapter works through education and action to green the economy and protect the environment. We engage in projects designed to connect children to nature, protect wildlife and wild spaces, and to offer solutions to climate change.

Halifax Goes Wild Photo Contest

Give us your best shot for the Halifax Goes Wild photo contest!


Show off your photo skills and the city’s green spaces in our photo contest, with prizes provided by Atlantic Photo Supply. Here's the answers to all your questions about this contest!


 “What kind of photos are you looking for?” – Photos should depict a green space within the municipality. This could be a park, a beach, your own backyard, or more. Photos can have people in them (with their consent), or not, it’s up to you!

Submit an image to Halifax Goes Wild through Twitter

Send us a tweet with the following text:

 

My @HfxDiverse #HalifaxGoesWild photo entry:

 

Then attach your photo and tell us your name, the name of the photo (if you wish) and when/where the photo was taken. We'll contact you through Twitter if you win!

Unfortunately there's no way to make a fancy button to do this automatically :(

 

Thanks for entering!

What I Would Have Said

It's been a few nights since Nova Scotia's independent fracking review passed through Halifax, addressing a frustrated and distrusting crowd of concerned citizens. These brave PhDs stood before hundreds of people and presented some unpopular conclusions...on an even less popular topic.

Fracking - the controversial process of fracturing shale rock deep underground using a toxic mixture of chemicals in order to retrieve bubbles of natural gas. We've become a profoundly desperate people, haven't we?

The public meeting was held in a lecture hall at King's College. Some people from the audience spoke out of turn, while others simply shouted over the panelists trying to deliver their findings. I was caught between sympathy for the panelists and stark agreeance with the hecklers.

Low calving rates among blue whales cause for concern

Author: 
Zack Metcalfe
Source: 
Sierra Club Atlantic
Date published: 
Sun, 07/27/2014

Each blue whale has a unique pattern of spots of its back, like a fingerprint or a nametag. These spots allow researchers to identify each whale as either a newcomer, or an old friend.

The Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) is a non-profit research organization located on the Gulf of St Lawrence's northern shore and they were the first group to begin long term study of marine mammals in the Gulf. Since their founding in 1979, this group has followed blue whale populations in eastern Canada, the Sea of Cortez and in the waters of Iceland.

MICS has discovered something troubling in the northwest Atlantic blue whale population. Of the 475 individual whales they've identified since their genesis in 1979, only 22 have been calves. This suggests a frighteningly low calving rate for a population already swimming on the brink.

Community gardens now able to sell produce - green thumbs rejoice

One small step for community gardens, one giant leap for Halifax at large.

There are 11 community gardens in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), public spaces in which people can grow their own food, to lower the grocery bill, to satisfy their need for local produce or to put their insatiable green thumbs to work. Thanks to a progressive move by municipal council, these soil enthusiasts can now sell their hard earned fruits and veggies to the public.

Moneys earned from these sales are not pocketed by the growers, however. According to the new municipal law, all earnings must be used for the benefit of the municipality or the community gardens themselves.

"This is a major change for the city," said David Foster, program coordinator with Halifax Diverse, an initiative aiming to connect the public with urban nature. "It adds legitimacy to urban orchards and gardens...and makes them the urban equivalent to a real farm."

Intersection redesign is an example of Urban Forestry Master Plan in action

Panoramic view of the intersection next to the Halifax Common which will be converted into a roundabout

A long awaited roundabout is going to mean the end of some long standing trees on the Halifax Common.


Work is beginning this week on the conversion of the North Park and Cunard Street intersection into a roundabout and will causes significant changes to the surrounding area. Most noticeably this will involve reshaping the intersection into a traffic circle, including the use of some land that was formerly green space on the North Common. 

Blue whale receives honourable mention as Atlantic chiefs call for moratorium

Author: 
Zack Metcalfe
Source: 
Sierra Club Atlantic
Date published: 
Thu, 07/17/2014

"The Atlantic Salmon and the blue whales are both very precious creatures to our nations," said Chief Claude Jeannotte of Gespeg, Quebec. He spoke in Halifax on behalf of these two struggling species Wednesday, July 16.

Jeannotte was accompanied by four other First Nations chiefs from across Atlantic Canada, all from communities dependent on the, "rich bounty of the Gulf," in the words of Chief P.J Prosper, representing the Migmaq of Nova Scotia. Together they spoke against exploratory drilling at the Old Harry Prospect, located in the Gulf of St Lawrence 80 km off Newfoundland's west coast and 460 metres underwater.

The Old Harry prospect is expected to be drilled in 2015 or 2016, according to the oil and gas company Corridor Resources which presently holds an exploratory license in the region.

PEI caught between Cavendish and a hard place

There's been a moratorium on deep water wells for over a decade on PEI. It was established in 2002 because of major drought conditions that year, linked to the overuse of groundwater by these wells.

They pose a danger to the Island in particular because its residents depends heavily on groundwater. For example, the city of Charlottetown runs entire rivers dry with its water consumption; Winter River hasn't flowed for several summers now. Clearly this is a delicate water table.

When the PEI Potato Board requested the moratorium be lifted in 2012, all fingers were pointed at Cavendish Farms as the motivator behind this request. Potatoes are a thirsty crop and if Cavendish wanted higher yields, they needed to exploit groundwater.

Presentation to the PEI Legislative Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry on High Capacity Wells

Publication Date: 
June 12, 2014

Presentation to the PEI Legislative Standing Committee on

Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry

considering the moratorium on high capacity (deep) water wells for agriculture irrigation

 

PEI Sierra Club (Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club Canada)

Tony Reddin

June 12, 2014.

Environmental groups express solidarity with Pictou Landing First Nation

June 12, 2014

 

K'JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - The Ecology Action Centre, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada, and Council of Canadians express their solidarity with Pictou Landing First Nation and neighbouring communities in their fight to defend and clean up their home waters.

 

“The ongoing pollution and contamination of a once pristine coastal estuary and beach is a disgrace. It is absolutely the responsibility of the province of Nova Scotia to clean up this site once and for all” says Angela Giles, Council of Canadians.

 

Small steps save fish, big steps save rivers

By Zack Metcalfe

zack.metcalfe@gmail.com

The single greatest challenge in my life has always been avoiding despair when facing the mistakes of the last century. Several months ago I read a book called Here On Earth, by Tim Flannery, and in one chapter he describes a terrible mistake made long before I was born. The spent nuclear reactors of Russian power plants were dumped into the Arctic Ocean. Time and tidal forces will eventually penetrate their casings and cause unimaginable harm to the oceans.

Problems like this are beyond my power to rectify, as so many of the world's problems are. I imagine diving into those icy depths and hauling each reactor back onto land, but this is of course ridiculous; perhaps it's a coping mechanism.

Nova Scotia review on fracking confirms we still know nothing

By Zack Metcalfe

zack.metcalfe@gmail.com

Even now, after several reviews of fracking in this country, we aren't certain what it's doing to our air and water. 

One such review, conducted by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), discovered the body of research into hydraulic fracturing was incomplete - there were no reliable studies on the environmental impacts.

There were reports of people lighting their tap water on fire and gas wells leaking methane into the atmosphere, but for all the panel's efforts, they couldn't deliver anything conclusive. The research simply hasn't been done.

In their conclusion they say, "authoritative data about potential [environmental] impacts are currently neither sufficient, nor conclusive."

Halifax Diverse Naturalizes Your Yard

Do you know the impact that gardening with native plants can have on local wildlife? Bill Freedman does! As a professor of ecology and long-time practitioner of the principles of naturalization, he wants to spread the word about the benefits of using native plants in your garden. Walking his own talk, Dr. Freedman naturalized his own yard years ago, curating a collection of native plants where a lawn once dwelled, now home to a vibrant collection of greenery, exploding with colour throughout the various growing seasons.

 

Fracking wells don't stand the test of time, experts say

Author: 
Zack Metcalfe
Source: 
Sierra Club Atlantic
Date published: 
Sun, 06/01/2014

Dr John Cherry, a hydrogeologist with the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), says fracking wells in Canada aren't built for the long haul; they tend to spring leaks.

"In my view, well integrity is likely the most important shale gas issue," said Dr Cherry in Toronto, Thursday, May 29. Dr Cherry chaired the CCA's expert panel on understanding the environmental impacts of shale gas extraction (fracking). This panel released its report in early May.

The Tale of One Birder

In the lead-up to our June 1st bird walk led by Kate Steele of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, fellow birder and photographer extraordinaire Russel Crosby writes about how he got into birding, and gives novices a few tips. Join us on June 1st on the Shearwater Flyer Trail to put your learning into practice!

 

As a long time birder I occasionally get asked about how I initially got into bird watching as a hobby, but I don’t remember any one specific event that led to a lifetime love of birds. My first interactions with birds were through my older brothers who were serious duck hunters before I was even old enough to fire a gun. Although I did go on a few of their early hunting trips where I witnessed ducks being killed, I opted instead to observe birds rather than to try to shoot them. My father supported my burgeoning hobby and bought me books he thought would interest me. They did!

 

Halifax Diverse Walks the Shearwater Flyer Trail

Our first walk of the summer, we're going to be led by Kate Steele of the NS Bird Society on a birding walk for beginners. We will be meeting at 8:30 (exact location TBA), and our walk will last about 2h. Kate is highly experienced at leading walks for novices, and will tailor the walk to those who are new to birding!

This walk will have a limit of 16-20 people, so get there early to ensure you get a spot. If you don't get a spot, it's a wonderful trail to enjoy on your own as well and has a bounty of treasures to discover along the way. Bring binoculars for optimal bird spotting, and your camera if you have a great telephoto lens. We'd be happy to share your photos after the walk!

Walks Schedule for Summer 2014

After much delay and with great excitement, we're happy to announce the 2014 summer walk schedule for Halifax Diverse Walks. We have a wide range of experts who will be leading walks this year from birding to the history of McNabs Island! Updates will be posted on the facebook page (and corresponding events), and on this blog as well. On this page you can find more information about individual events by selecting individual events under the "Get Involved" menu above.