I did a quick, informal e-mail poll asking about the great sustainability features of the Halifax Regional Municipality. Seven respondents from different organizations and of different ages wrote back with quite similar answers. Here are some of the major themes.
- People "loved" the Halifax’s Farmers Market for the wide choice of local and organic food, the variety of vendors, and the community experience it provides.
- Another common response was the closeness and accessibility of green and natural spaces. Favorite places include Point Pleasant and Shubie parks, Frog Pond, Long Lake, Cole Harbour Salt Marsh Trail, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea (BLT) Trail and much more. We are blessed with many oceanscapes, including numerous beaches. It is quite amazing how many are so close by - Crystal Crescent, Lawrencetown, Martinique (one of my personal favourites), Queensland and so on. The municipality’s website lists more than 30 fresh and salt water beaches.
- Many people also mentioned HRM as an active and vibrant community, with people out walking, enjoying great food, and soaking in the natural and cultural ambience.
- The solid waste management program was also top of mind for many people. In HRM, more than 55 per cent of waste is diverted from the landfill through comprehensive residential and commercial reduction, composting and recycling programs.
- Other mentions included clean drinking water, the pesticide bylaw, and engaged sustainability discussions fostered by citizens, universities, NGOs, government and other institutions.
- This year HRM was ranked as the most sustainable medium-sized city by Corporate Knights magazine. The ranking was based on five criteria including ecological integrity and social well being. Some of the highlights mentioned in the assessment report aligned with some of the e-mail remarks I received, such as the pesticide ban. Others included sustainability planning, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, such as the geothermal initiative being implemented at Alderney Landing, and new requirements for cycling infrastructure in new buildings and on roads.
A nice thought to end on provided by two respondents. In HRM “you can see the stars at night” and you can relax sipping “fair trade coffee at many locations around town.” Bottoms up, everyone.