EAC fern lane office pre-renovation

Our History

An important part of the Ecology Action Centre's past and present is our office building on Fern Lane. It is a green building demonstration site where you can learn about how we made it one of the most energy efficient office renovations in the country!

A history of action, activism, education and change.

EAC in the 1970s: An organization springs from a Dalhousie course called Living Ecology.  The newly formed EAC works to promote recycling in Halifax.  By the end of the decade, urban development, transportation and energy issues have been added to the roster.

EAC in the 1980s: Now an organization in our teens, we cut the apron strings and move from our early home on the Dalhousie campus. Agriculture, forestry, hazardous waste and uranium mining are hot issues.

EAC in the 1990s: A court case against the federal government’s proposed Point Aconi power plant leaves us bankrupt.  Thankfully, fundraisers get us back on track by the middle of the decade. Several new committees and projects are formed, including the Marine Issues Committee. Nova Scotia’s municipalities begin to take recycling and composting seriously, leaving us free to concentrate on other environmental issues.

EAC staff gathered in the 1970s
EAC in the 1980s

EAC 2000-2010: A permanent home adds stability to the now middle-aged and well-established organization. 

EAC 2010-2020: We renovated our building and added a third level. It is a marvel of energy efficiency and allows us to continue expanding our work on critical environmental issues.

EAC this decade: We celebrate our 50th anniversary! Membership is now over 4000, we have over 300 volunteers, and staff booms to over 40 full-and part-time workers. We continue to work on critical environmental issues. Click here to find our most recent news.

EAC Through the Decades

EAC in the 1970s

May 1971: EAC springs from a Dalhousie course called Living Ecology with the help of a government grant and several enthusiastic students. It has two goals: to convince Haligonians to recycle and to be a source of environmental information for the public. First address: a private house on Carleton St.

November 1971: EAC is really in business when it moves to the dingy basement of Dalhousie University's Forrest Building, where it stays (rent-free) for 14 years. The Centre grows quickly, helped along by generous (though sporadic) government grants.

January 1972: EAC inaugurates a paper-recycling depot, which operates every Saturday from Jan. '72 to Feb. '75. Approximately a ton of paper is recycled each week. Recycling remains a major focus for 20 years.

1973: EAC files notice of appeal against Halifax City Council's decision to approve a massive development project on Quinpool Road. The case is lost but the project is reduced in size, thanks to EAC, local residents, and a private citizen who took the city to court. Urban development and transportation remain a major focus for EAC today.

1973: The EAC, in concert with other environmental groups and one outstanding individual, successfully opposes construction of a 12,000 megawatt nuclear power station on Stoddard Island. EAC reaches a pinnacle when it opens a (short-lived) branch plant in Port Hawkesbury, N.S. Over the next few years, EAC becomes involved in more and more high-profile public issues.

March 1974: Abrupt end to core funding by government. To help provide financial stability, EAC registers as a society and obtains tax status as a charitable organization. Over the next 20+ years, however, there are several financial crises.

1975: EAC's Bring Back the Refillable Bottle campaign, which leads to changes in the Nova Scotia Beverage Container Act.

1976: EAC publishes its first book, a guide to citizen action, and inaugurates its annual Sunshine and Tarred Duck awards, given to the individuals or groups demonstrating "environmental good works" and "environmental villainy," respectively.

1976: Beginning of the fight (by many parties) vs the spruce-budworm spraying program in Cape Breton. The Centre's ability to keep the issue in the public eye helps sway the province, which in 1977 bans aerial spraying of chemical pesticides.

1976-77: EAC is a legal intervenor in the N.S. Public Utility Board hearings into the N.S. Power Corporation's proposed rate increase - just one example of the huge amount of valuable work on energy-related issues from the mid-'70s on.

1979: Adoption of EAC's logo, designed by graphic artist Zoe Lucas from a sketch of a white pine inside a circle.

1979-80: Major paper-recycling project in Fairview and Spryfield. Approx. 18 per cent of households participate. Cancelled when a private company opens a city-wide collection service.

Late 1970s: EAC's public education efforts at this time include its famed lecture series, a regular newsletter (Jusun), a library specializing in energy issues (amongst other topics), school curricula development and a high school text on environmental law, a major focus for EAC in its early years.

EAC in the 1980s

1980: EAC begins a newsletter intended to appear "between the issues" of Jusun, but Jusun soon ceases to exist. We also hold our first auction, a lively fundraiser that becomes a tradition.

Early 1980s: Uranium mining is a hot topic. Among EAC's activities: submission of a brief to the McCleave Uranium Inquiry. The inquiry results in a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in the province. Related concerns for EAC at this period: nuclear power and nuclear waste.

Early 1980s: Height of the battle against aerial spraying of herbicides. There's a Royal Commission on Forestry, and 16 Cape Breton landowners launch a legal challenge against N.S. Forest Industries. Sadly, the case is lost. EAC is a major supporter of the effort.

Early 1980s: EAC's Agriculture Committee organizes annual Alternatives in Agriculture conferences in association with the Atlantic Christian Training Centre in Tatamagouche. The committee eventually splits off as an independent group.

1986: EAC has to leave Dalhousie University. Since then we've had five homes: the Roy Building, Barrington St. (fall '86); Veith House in north end Halifax (April '89); 1553 Granville St. (early '95); 1568 Argyle Street (June '96); and our current home (April '06).

1987: Founding of EAC's Environment & Development Committee. Major activity since '96: its annual Sustainable Communities Award. (In its middle years, this committee is independent of EAC.)

October 1987: EAC produces and distributes 25,000 pamphlets on hazardous waste, and a year later holds its first Household Hazardous Waste Day. Six depots around metro accept waste from 600+ people.

Summer 1989: Start of EAC's composting project. Garden-related projects over the next decade include community gardens (not our first), the Get Your Lawn Off Drugs campaign and the Schoolgrounds Naturalization project.

November 1989: First meeting of the Wilderness Committee. Forestry and the need for ecological reserves are hot topics from the start.

EAC in the 1990s

October 13, 1990: EAC's second Hazardous Waste Day. Almost 2000 people take advantage of the eight depots around metro and in Halifax County.

December 1990: EAC, along with Greenpeace, the Cape Breton Coalition for Environmental Protection and the Save Boularderie Island Society, takes the federal government to court over the proposed Point Aconi Power Plant. Losing the case has a huge financial impact on the Centre (debt!) and morale takes a hit.

Early to mid-'90s: EAC's Fundraising Committee puts enormous energy into restoring the Centre's fortunes, holding many functions. In '92, they hit the jackpot with the Stars Recycle Quilt, which raises over $15,000.

1992: EAC participates in the environmental assessment of a proposed sewage-treatment plant on McNab's Island, and is busy with the metro waste-management plan, especially as a critic of incineration. As metro gets serious about recycling, however, EAC gradually retires from the issue of garbage. The harbour, however, has been a periodic focus since early days.

November 1992: EAC holds its first sale of chemical-free Xmas trees, a tradition that continues.

1995: First Marine Issues Committee meeting. MIC has since tackled a huge range of issues affecting our oceans and coastal communities. EAC also sponsors an environmental audit of the G7 Economic Summit, held that year in Halifax.

1995: The N.S. Dept. of Natural Resources begins the long process of Integrated Resource Management (IRM), which seeks to classify all Crown land for either resource use or protection. EAC's Wilderness Committee (WC) becomes involved as the '90s progress.

February 1996: EAC is officially clear of the debt incurred by Point Aconi, but its membership base is lower than at almost any time in its history.

1996-97: Under pressure from mining interests, the John Savage government pulls Jim Campbells Barren in Cape Breton from a list of proposed wilderness areas. The WC is part of a massive lobby that successfully leads to the Barren being protected under law.

1997: EAC is an official intervener in the Sable Offshore Energy Project hearings, arguing against the project on both environmental and economic grounds. MIC launches the first of its many publications on marine issues; topics include deep-sea corals, discarding in the groundfishery and marine invertebrates.

December 1998: Welcome passage of Nova Scotia's Wilderness Areas Protection Act, which sets aside 31 wilderness areas, and the Endangered Species Act, both of which EAC strongly supports. Progress to implement these acts has been slow.

Spring 1999: Founding of the New Vision for Public Lands Coalition, wherein the WC identifies over a dozen new proposed wilderness areas.

1999: Funding granted for TRAX, first project of the recently formed Transportation Issues Committee (TIC). The project's main aim is to reduce reliance on the auto in metro Halifax.

1999: Launch of Hemlock Circus, EAC's very own theatre troupe. Fun and education in one package! And we hold our first annual Garden Party and Auction, another tradition in the making.

EAC in the 2000s

Summer 2000: Launch of the Nova Scotia Water Trail (Lunenburg to Halifax) and its guidebook. A major EAC project.

Summer 2000: EAC hosts the First International Symposium on Deep Sea Corals, a conference attended by 120 scientists, environmentalists, government employees, fishers, artists and citizens, from close to 20 countries. Truly a world first!

Fall 2000: Start of Transportation Issues Committee's Bike Again! project, which fixes up donated bicycles and lends them to the community.

Fall 2000: EAC holds a workshop on salt marsh restoration, the beginning of our involvement in a highly technical (and muddy!) subject. This major project involves fieldwork, community outreach, public education, and school programs – all part of our effort to protect and restore salt marshes and tidal rivers in the Minas Basin.

Fall 2000: The Globe and Mail names EAC ‘one of the best run charities in Canada’

May 2001: EAC's third international conference, organized by a sub-committee of Marine Issues Committee. The topic: ballast water and the invasive species therein.

Summer 2001: With the assistance of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, EAC seeks a judicial review of a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to open Georges Bank to groundfish draggers.

Fall 2001: Coastal Issues Committee established to promote coastal conservation and sustainable coastal communities. After a long hiatus, the Energy Issues Committee is re-established. Its first venture: selling energy-efficient light bulbs.

Fall 2001: EAC celebrates 30 years of existence with nostalgia and a slap-up dinner.

2002: Launch of Coastlines, a weekly nature column published in many Nova Scotian community newspapers. We fight oil and gas exploration leases off Cape Breton (especially the use of seismic blasting), hold the first of our summer hikes on Crown lands, obtain stable funding for a Public Lands coordinator, and launch Standing Tall, a forestry project.

2002: Our participation in Active and Safe Routes to School, a national program, begins. Other transportation initiatives include an anti-idling program. We also establish two new committees: Urban Issues and Food Action.

2003: EAC is the lead agency in a new enterprise – the Halifax Harbour Watershed Coalition Project – that aims to coordinate research on watershed management and source control. Students of Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, vote in favour of a universal bus pass after a year of work by EAC, SMU students and Metro Transit. And the main speaker at a large fundraiser in June is David Suzuki.

2004: In January we present our arguments against dragging on Georges Bank before a Federal Court judge. The judge subsequently (August 2004) finds against us (thus for DFO), but awards no costs. In January we also hold an exhibition of bicycle art.

Spring 2004: The N.S. Dept. of Transportation agrees to replace the culvert at Cheverie Creek, our pilot salt marsh restoration site; the Halifax Regional Municipality awards us the contract to administer the city’s pesticide bylaw program for the 2004 season; and we hold a workshop on ocean zoning.

Fall 2004: We hold our first Harvest Food Festival, and 100 Nova Scotia schools take part in International Walk to School Week under the direction of Active and Safe Routes to School – an all-time high! And Standing Tall gains a full-time coordinator.

2004: Other ongoing stories are our fight for strict legislation controlling all-terrain vehicles and against unsuitable development, both urban and coastal.  The EAC is voted #1 Activist Organization by readers of The Coast: the first of several times we win this annual award.

July 2005: Old, polluting vehicles are scrapped in return for incentives such as bus passes and bikes thanks to the Ecology Action Centre’s new program, Steer Clean. We purchase a building in North End Halifax from the O’Malley family.  Over the next nine months, thousands of volunteer hours will go into renovating this building.

Summer 2005: The Garden Mentors project pairs seniors with youth to create gardens in the city. 

October 2005: The Marine Issues Committee partners with the Living Oceans Society and Oceana to “drag” a trawl net, rock hopper gear and trawl doors to Ottawa to demonstrate on Citadel Hill.

November 2005: A culvert large enough to allow a more natural tidal regime replaces the old undersized one at Cheverie Creek, a major step for this project.

January 2006: The Saltmarsh Restoration Project in Cheverie Creek, Hants County, is awarded the “Visionary Group Award” by the Gulf of Maine Council.

April 2006: TRAX holds an Open Streets Festival.  Over 600 people attend to support community and active transportation.

May 1, 2006: We settle into our very own, eco-renovated home at 2705 Fern Lane.  This home becomes a working demonstration of a green renovation, and we begin to give tours of the building to the general public.

September 2006: Making decisions at the fish counter becomes easier for Canadians when the SeaChoice program - educating consumers on sustainable seafood choices through a wallet-sized card and a website - is launched by Sustainable Seafood Canada, a coalition which includes the Ecology Action Centre. 

Fall 2006: Every morning for over a month, Marine Issues Committee representatives stand at roadsides holding signs in support of a United Nations moratorium on high seas dragging in international waters.  A blog features pictures of Canadians - including David Suzuki and Farley Mowat, as well as several politicians, scientists and fishermen - in support of the campaign.  Despite all this, on December 8, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly fails to agree on high seas bottom-trawling.

2006: We commemorate our 35th anniversary throughout the year with such events as a July Street Party and a September 1920s Soiree. 

2006-2007: The Energy Issues Committee spreads the word on climate change by showing “An Inconvenient Truth” - followed by a discussion - to communities and schools around the province.

Winter 2007: Active & Safe Routes to School’s Pace Car program asks parents and other residents to slow down to the speed limit in school zones, making it safer for kids to walk to school.

February 2007:  The Urban Issues Committee reinvents itself as the Built Environment Committee. 

March 2007: Despite much public opposition and a hard fight from the EAC, Keltic Petrochemicals Inc. gets provincial approval to build a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Guysborough County.

Fall 2007: The Under 2 C campaign and blog educate the public on climate change in preparation for an international Kyoto Conference in Bali in December.

November 2007: The Food Action Committee hosts its first Musicians for Farmers event, successfully pairing local food and music to raise funds and awareness for Heliotrust.

January 2008: Thomas Homer Dixon is the guest for our 2nd Annual Speaker Lecture.

May 2009: EAC accepts the national Arthur Kroeger College Awards for Public Affairs.

2009: The Fossil Fools Film Fest, organized by the Energy Subcommittee on Public Education (eSCOPE) shows five energy consumption themed films on three evenings. 

Spring 2009: RAC hosts the Birds Are Back Celebrity Challenge, raising awareness about the role of birds in the ecosystem.  Celebrity participants include John “Mr. Lahey” Dunsworth, MP Megan Leslie, MLA Andrew Younger, City Councilor Dawn Sloane, Nick Wilkinson of Gypsophelia, Ben Stone and Susan LeBlanc-Crawford of Zuppa Circus, and several others.

2009: Blue Mountain/Birch Cove Lakes and Ship Harbour Long Lake are designated wilderness protection areas, bringing the total provincial land area designated protected to 8.7 per cent.

Summer 2009: The Halifax Landshare project debuts, connecting gardeners with those with land to spare, and the Urban Garden project helped community gardens across the city.

September 2009: Halifax Regional Municipality votes to immediately phase out the purchase and provision of bottled water in City Hall and ensure access to public tap water in all HRM facilities.

October 2009: About 115 schools across Nova Scotia take part in Walk to School Month. Students learned about the physical activity, safety and environmental benefits of walking to school.


  • training over 700 children and youth in active transportation safety skills;
  • helping to secure community feed-in tariffs as part of the provincial renewable electricity plan and regulations;
  • convincing our provincial government to stop purchasing bottled water in government buildings;
  • starting Atlantic Canada’s first Community Supported Fishery with 5 fishermen and over 100 subscribers;
  • an extended moratorium, possibly permanent, on oil drilling on George’s Bank;
  • encouraging the provincial government to purchase, for protection, 56,000 ha of high conservation-value lands from large forestry companies;
  • creating relationships and sharing knowledge between gardeners and food enthusiasts by planting garlic and fall rye in community gardens, canning pears, baking sauerkraut cupcakes, and savouring the harvest with new Canadians from all parts of the world, seniors with long term NS roots and students at Halifax schools.

EAC in the 2010s

2011: EAC celebrates 40 years with 40 consecutive days of action!

Fall 2011: Travelled across Europe with Hector the Blue Shark through our “Friends of Hector” campaign to protect sharks and other sensitive “bycatch” species 

Fall 2011: Welcomed the official designation Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area – Nova Scotia’s 38th protected Wilderness Area, and one of our high priority “endangered hotspots” for over a decade.

2012: In partnership with the NS Federation of Agriculture, successfully advocated for the inclusion of two local food goals in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act 

2012: Restored coastal habitat and demonstrated alternative methods to manage stormwater and care for the shore at five demonstration sites, including a stormwater management retrofit at a Halifax fire station, a rain garden at the George Dixon Community Centre in Halifax’s North End, and 3 Living Shorelines Demonstration sites along the Northumberland Strait.

2013: Planned and fundraised for the Morris House move, which finally happened in January 2013. Saving the Morris House from demolition by moving it to the North End of Halifax diverted some 400,000 tons of material from the dump!

2013: Stopped tree-cutting in a Sandy Lake development within 24 hours of taking action. The developer had taken advantage of a loop hole that allowed clear-cutting without water buffers, a portion of conserved land or local input. 

2014: Succeeded in having many progressive elements included in the 2014 Regional Plan, including a commitment to create a greenbelting plan, stronger limits on sprawl outside of growth centres, a stronger commitment to Transit Oriented Development, a broader mandate for the Active Transportation Plan and greater setbacks from the ocean to prepare for sea-level rise!

2014: Expanded our work geographically for the first time outside of Nova Scotia through the hiring of three part-time Community Food Coordinators in New Brunswick, working in Kent, Albert and Westmorland Counties 

2014: Delivered Making Tracks programs to more than 2000 youth and children across NS; 93 per cent of reporting participants indicated an increase in safety knowledge and 92 per cent indicated an increase in skills, while 74 per cent indicated they will use active transportation more.

2015: We renovated our building and added a third level. It uses repurposed and salvaged materials throughout – behind the walls and under the floors, and also as showcase features – and is a marvel of energy efficiency.

2015: Over 100 volunteers created a demonstration site on the North West Arm to show the advantages of a Living Shoreline natural approach to coastal ecosystem stewardship. 

2015: The "Our Food Project" increased our local food security with 20 food distribution projects, 279 interactive workshops, 13 new and 13 expanded community gardens.

September 2016: Celebrated the closure of two new areas protected from bottom fishing in the Maritimes region, the Corsair Canyon and Jordan Basin. 

2016: Ushered in an important and long-awaited change in Canadian fisheries policy with the national adoption of a fins-attached policy for sharks landed in Canadian fisheries, which strengthens Canada’s ban on shark finning and was a main focus for our shark campaign. 

2016: Completed a 21-week collaborative pilot project of the Mobile Food Market with overwhelming success, delivering fresh, healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables in five communities across the Halifax region that have limited access to healthy food. 

2017: Launched sealevelrise.ca to help educate coastal communities across Atlantic Canada about sea-level rise and the need to plan for it. 

2017: Raised awareness about the proposed Alton Gas project, and supported community efforts to stop the project and protect the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River.

2017: The creation of a coastal protection act began after over a decade of petitioning for the provincial government to take action.

Spring 2017: Halifax Regional Council passed the Integrated Mobility Plan! We had been working for this plan alongside transportation advocacy groups for years. It includes a protected downtown bicycle lane network, dedicated bus lanes, and a complete streets approach.

2017: Peak membership of 5,800 members was reached this year. Thanks to our membership canvass team and each of you, our members, for helping us reach this incredible milestone!

2018: Our building renovation received a 2018 Bright Business Award and a Canada Green Building Award from Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine, a national award that recognizes nine projects across the country for excellence in sustainable design and construction. The renovation was also named one of Canada’s Clean50 Top Projects for 2019!

2018: We had our biggest Bluenose running team of all time, with 76 Green Avengers. Together, we raised $27,500 for the EAC! 

2018: Halifax Council unanimously approved the Green Network Plan, a major milestone toward making Halifax a national leader when it comes to protecting nature from development and directing growth. This was the culmination of more than seven years of work by Our HRM Alliance. 

2018: We helped organize one of the largest environmental protests in Nova Scotia’s history. The #NoPipe Land & Sea Rally brought over 3,500 citizens together in and on Pictou Harbour to oppose the plan by Northern Pulp to pump up to 90 million litres of toxic pulp mill waste directly into the Northumberland Strait via an underwater pipe.

2019: Making Tracks safe cycling training was delivered to 1,124 children, youth and adults across the province this year - that’s more than double our original goal of 500!

2019: We advocated for strong action on plastic pollution and welcomed the provincial announcement of a plastic bag ban by October 30, 2020.

2019: We supported grassroots efforts to stop the delisting and sale of Owl’s Head, a rare ecosystem home to many endangered species which had been quietly removed from the list of proposed protected areas by the provincial government in early 2019, without public consultation. 

2019: Together with grassroots and youth activist groups, EAC mobilized our members, partners and volunteers to demand new climate goals for Nova Scotia. In September 2019, the province committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which was the most ambitious emissions reduction goal in the country to date. 

2020: Our years of campaign work resulted in the Canadian government finally banning fisheries from landing the endangered shortfin mako shark. We continue to work closely with the government to champion international protections for this shark that roams the entire Atlantic Ocean. 

2020: Halifax Regional Council approved an electrified transit fleet which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If approved by the province, an electrified transit fleet could be implemented in 2028.

2020: We commissioned and released the Electric Vehicle Adoption Study 2020-2030. The report examines the potential for increased electric vehicle use in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia and assesses the impact of provincial policy options on market adoption of EVs. The report had a direct influence on the implementation of EV incentives in Nova Scotia.

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