This article was independently produced by our editorial team with financial support from Develop Nova Scotia, connecting our city to the water. Visit Halifax waterfront this summer for food, art, shopping and adventure. Find a list of things to do and see here.
Ah, the Halifax Harbour. My first memory of it isn’t riding the ferry, watching fireworks over it, or crossing the bridge, although I’ve done all that too. No, for me, it’s this 2006 commercial where an anthropomorphic wave tells Haligonians to stop polluting it.
For centuries after Halifax’s founding in 1749, raw sewage was dumped into the harbour. Around the turn of the 21st century, the city started to get serious about treating its sewage with a massive project called Harbour Solutions. The first treatment plant came online in 2008, then broke down disastrously in 2009. That kept skeptics of a clean harbour, well, skeptical for a while. But now we take a sewage-free, swimmable harbour so much for granted that any threat to it is major news.
That’s progress. But the decision to stop using the harbour as a toilet is only the most obvious fix. The water still deserves to be further protected and preserved for future generations. Here are five ways you can help.
1Take some trash home
Scotian Shores was created in 2020 to help clean up the province’s shorelines, and since then has collected over 150,000 pounds of garbage. You can partake in a large group cleanup or organize your own event.
2Document what you see on iNaturalist
This website and app will let you log the different types of birds, sea creatures and plant life you see while exploring the harbour or its shorelines and beaches. From Canada Geese to garter snakes andsea cauliflowers, if you spot any creatures, especially endangered ones like piping plovers, iNaturalist wants to know. The website can also help you identify plants or animals you’re unfamiliar with.
3Explore the biosphere
Back in 2011, Environment Canada created a BioKit for the Halifax Boardwalk. Contained within the document are snippets of history and science, along with simple experiments to check whether the tide is going in or out and information on how pollution affects wildlife.
4Keep to yourself
If you do spot an animal, make sure to observe from afar and not to disrupt its habitat. The province has a FAQ on why most animals should be left alone, but if you see an animal that does seem or injured, you can call the Department of Natural Resources to figure out next steps, or a wildlife rescue like Hope for Wildlife.
5Take a deep dive
Local divers have been finding items disposed of at the bottom of the Halifax Harbour’s many inlets for years. For some insight into what lies at the bottom, check out @saltwatersean, @mrzjonezz, or @boyd2045 on Instagram. If you document what you find (above or below the water), you might inspire others to clean up the coastline, too.