The PEHRA Environmental Chair and Committee are committed to provide oversight and a voice for the community for the protection, maintenance,  and restoration of the ecological and biological diversity of Portland Estates and Hills. This will be achieved through public education, advocacy, liaison with Politicians and regulators, community clean up events,  environmental projects,  and partnership with other environmental advocacy groups, community groups and local businesses.   In particular a strong focus of the  effort will be directed to  the ecological  value and health  of our parks, streams, lakes, and air quality.


  • Annual community Spring Clean Up in partnership with The Clean Foundation
  • Annual secondary  site specific community clean up event in partnership with The Clean Foundation
  • Tree Planting Events in the parks in partnership with The Clean Foundation
  • Harvesting and public education on invasive plant species
  • Annual educational trail walk with local scouting group
  • Public Education and signage on  stream restoration, Ellenvale run, watersheds, and waterfowl feeding.
  • Community Voice and advocate to deal  and  ensure action on  illegal  waste dumping, damage to parkland, fuel oil spills, contractor and developer environmental practices, and encroachment by property owners on Halifax Parklands.
  • Advocate for better  environmental  protection and monitoring of our lakes and parklands by HRM and Nova Scotia Environment


In 1996 the Portland Estates Resident’s Association (PERA) was asked to provide input to the proposed construction of Portland Hills alongside Morris Lake by Clayton Developments Limited. Nancy Witherspoon, a resident with professional skills as an environmental scientist, volunteered to chair an Environment Committee under the auspices of PERA, and meetings took place to discuss environmental protection measures proposed by Clayton. The primary focus was to minimize sedimentation in the lake. There were one-on-one meetings with HRM’s mayor, and engineering and planning heads, and then with Clayton Developments to discuss best-management practices for watershed protection. Partly as a result of such pressure, regular sampling of the two lakes in our community — Russell Lake and Morris Lake – is now performed by both the municipality and the developer. The committee routinely obtains the results of testing, analyzes them, and provides summaries to the community. Any issues arising from the sampling are dealt with by direct communication with the municipal staff and the developer, with whom strong relationships have been formed.

Expanding its scope, the Environment committee worked in partnership with Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and students from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to develop an integrated approach to managing the lakes and waterways of the Cow Bay Lake Watershed. This culminated in the presentation of a seminar, reports, maps, displays, a pamphlet and logo. In addition, the committee worked directly with staff of HRM, the province, government agencies, and the private sector (NS Power and the ESSO Refinery) to draw attention to environmental issues such as physical and chemical inputs to the lakes, fish kills, habitat destruction, osprey nesting and mortalities, and near-shore habitat destruction. The committee also facilitated a community and business workshop by DFO on fish habitat protection.

The committee, in partnership with Clean Nova Scotia, also organizes two annual Community Clean-Up Events. Every Spring and Fall approximately 50-75 members of the community meet to pick up garbage and recyclables from our park, our trails, and along the streets. As well, we have obtained donations from Tim Horton’s and our local Councillor (Bill Karsten) to provide refreshments for volunteers. We have also teamed up with the local Portland Estates Elementary School to give “house points” to student volunteers, and the local Scouts groups can earn badges for their efforts. We routinely collect approximately 30 full bags of garbage and keep the neighbourhood looking great!

Lakes Conservation


Lakes Conservation is a sub-committee under the Environment Chair.  More information will follow shortly.

This article was updated on August 22, 2022