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In This Issue... 2 SIERRA CLUB ATLANTIC Hot Topics 3

Hydraulic Fracturing Comes to Atlantic Canada

6 The Bees Knees 8 WoodSmoke&Wine; My summer romance with the chanterelle

10 Natural Stakeholders;

Protecting the Gulf of St.Lawerence from Oil and Gas

12 Greening your Wedding 14 A Cool

Building Option

16 Geocaching! 17 Colouring Page!

It’s the season of fresh vine-ripe tomatoes and crisp green beans, summer weddings full of laughter and celebration, outdoor excursions and wonderful memories. Summer is finally here, Atlantic Canada. Our picturesque provinces are teeming with exciting things to do, and we at Sandpiper have been wracking our collective brains to come up with the best summer articles. Whether you are looking for an insightful read or a guide to outdoor adventure, the new and improved Sandpiper is sure to be a great summer read. Yes – I did say new and improved! In this issue you will find articles on greening your summer wedding, foraging for fresh mushrooms, reflections on our new political climate (gulp) and many other informative reads! But these are so much more than the articles you have come to expect and love from the Sandpiper; we have been brainstorming ways to make our articles more interactive, allowing you to interface with the newsletter by viewing related video, image and website media linked directly into the article. Combined with our newest method of publishing—through Issuu digital newsstand—we have changed how readers view the newsletter by leaps and bounds, providing you with portals to related information and fun facts. I hope our summer issue, like those past, inspires interest in and awareness of the environment we call home. There is no better time to get outside, explore those new interests and possibly make a difference than right now, when the days are long and the weather is beautiful. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen. As always, this issue could not have been made without the support and hard work of all our contributors and fellow Sandpiper staff. You’ve really helped put the sunshine into our summer issue. Tyler Durbano, Editor-in-Chief, The Sandpiper.


@willdikeson: It's great that Alward's so committed to consultation. On #fracking? No, of course not. But we've got license plate slogans. Pfft. #nbpoli @ACIC: @SierraClubACC We're in the office trying to fit #Frack into every sentence today! #NoFrackFridays!

@JoyKuebler: @SierraClubACC children, nature, obesity: how about also having school outside, reduce sedentary time during the day #playoutdoors @Yelhsa81: @SierraClubACC hi! i'd like 2 get involved with ur org but i'm not sure how. could you give me a push in the right direction? events&vol? @LiannePerry( in response to Algae Bloom in SW NS): @SierraClUbACC here's Marty Mink wearing 'rock the river '98' tshirt & signature speedo. Groovy? :D

This issue of The Sandpiper was created by Communications Committee Gretchen Fitzgerald, Margaret Hoegg, Tyler Durbano, Brynn Horley Contributors John and Jess Langille, Nicole Renaud, Marney Simmons, Marilyn Clarke, Rebecca McQuaid, Tria Clare, Brad Walters, Emily Phillips, Emma Hebb


Editors Gretchen Fitzgerald, Tyler Durbano Design, layout, and illustrations Brynn Horley

Photographs Gretchen Fitzgerald, Heidi Verheul, Irene Novaczek, J.K. Califf, Brynn Horley, Margaret Hoegg, Vincent van der Pas, John and Jess Langille

If you would like to contribute to our next issue, or have any comments or responses to content in this newsletter, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at: (902) 444-3113


Give yours elf a pat on the back!

e achieved a victory in our battle to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas! This step forward came when the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board asked the Federal Environment Minister to perform an environmental assessment on oil and gas in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence, not just the section within the jurisdiction on the Newfoundland Board. This unprecedented move was a response to the many voices heard from around the Gulf, speaking out against drilling for oil and gas in 2012. Thank you for your continued support! If you wish to receive a flag for your boat or home, demonstrating your support in protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence, please contact Gretchen Fitzgerald at or call 902-444-3113.


chool’s out and Sierra Buddies, our eco-mentorship program, has wrapped up for another year. Since October 2010, there have been 13 schools, 25 teachers, 40 high school Sierra Buddies, 75 university English as a Second Language students and 355 elementary school students in Nova Scotia participating in this program. During that time, almost 4.2 million litres of water have been conserved and 117 tonnes of CO2 have been reduced by students and staff striving to reduce their ecological footprint. With 1543 people affected by this project and over 70 volunteers working on it, it has been a tremendous success! Also, the Sierra Buddies have formed the extremely active Youth Action and Advisory Committee, another huge Sierra Club success story. Thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op, EcoAction, and TD Friends of the Environment for all of their continued support.


orking with Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the International Institute for Public Health and many other groups and volunteers, we have launched the Lepreau Decommissioning Coalition. We want Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Plant decommissioned so we can protect the health of people from a Fukishima-level disaster, as well as the Bay of Fundy from radioactive contamination. Please follow our mascot (the irascible elephant) Pointless Lepreau on Facebook. If you want to help out more, contact Larry Lack at lackward@


n response to our concerns about impacts on caribou habitats, protection of old growth forest and lack of environmental assessment, the Newfoundland Department of Natural Resources withdrew its forest management plan for former AbitibiBowater lands (Districts 10, 11, 12 and 13 - an area that makes up one tenth of the island on Newfoundland) and has gone back to the drawing board. Now we need to push them for better attempts to develop new forest harvesting guidelines and a province-wide forest strategy, due to be released this spring and in 2013, respectively.


ur spring fundraiser has raised $13,000 supporting the critical work of the Chapter. Only $7,000 more to reach our goal! For those who have already donated: thank you! We face so many challenges and have many more opportunities for action; our volunteers and staff have never worked harder in the light of some pretty daunting challenges. We have the opportunity to transform our society from its reliance on fossil fuels and over-consumption to living within our ecological means. If you have not sent your donation yet, please do so now. Every little bit helps. You can send your gift to Sierra Club Atlantic, 1557 Barrington St., Suite 137, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2A1, or contact gretchenf@ to find out more. We look forward (hopefully) reports that we have met our goal in the next edition of the Sandpiper.

 Point Lepreau Nuclear Power plant is undergoing a fix-up that will run over three years past its intended due date—and several million dollars over budget. The repair is at a point when the province of New Brunswick could turn a fix-up into a decommissioning... with your help! We need volunteers to support a public outreach campaign asking that no more tax money be poured into a project that is dangerous and unnecessary for solving climate OPPORTUNITIES: change. ISSUES WE NEED YOUR  Activity: Use social media such HELP ON as Facebook and Twitter to create and maintain an online presence  Help us to Continue Publishing for this campaign. the quarterly Sandpiper Magazine  Time commitment: 2-5 hours (by that or any other name). We need per week. passionate a volunteer to join the  Skills required: Creativity, newsletter committee. familiarity and interest in social  Activity: Graphic layout design media, and ability to shared over 2 week period, 4 times/ work with others. year.  Skills required: Passion (Familiarity with graphic design To find out how to help, please contact us at software, communication and (902) 444-3113 outreach skills are an asset.) or by email


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Hydraulic Fracturing Comes to Atlantic Canada by Emily Phillips and Brad Walters

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” is a relatively novel method of extracting natural gas from deep shale rock deposits. It involves the injection of a mixture of sand, water and chemicals under high pressure into horizontally drilled wells that often reach thousands of feet underground. A great deal of concern has recently emerged about possible environmental and health risks associated with fracking. Concerns include possible surface and ground water contamination by methane and fracking-related chemicals, air pollution by volatile organic compounds, habitat degradation from drill pad and pipeline construction; noise and other nuisance from increased truck traffic and well operations; and reduced property values. At the core of these concerns is the high level of uncertainty about possible risks. In short, the environmental and health effects of fracking have simply not been thoroughly studied, anywhere. Policy makers and the general public are thus wise to express caution before embracing this new industry.


That said, fracking continues to move forward in the Atlantic Provinces despite a recent spate of moratoriums elsewhere against the practice. Within Canada, Quebec was the first province to establish a partial moratorium on fracking until the completion of a comprehensive environmental assessment. In the United States, state and municipal governments in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia are curtailing further hydraulic fracturing development both explicitly and implicitly, waiting for greater research concerning purported health and environmental risks. Beyond North America, both France and South Africa established moratoriums in May 2011. Provincial governments in Atlantic Canada have been reluctant to embrace moratoriums of this kind, but growing political opposition to fracking here is at least encouraging governments to re-think the soundness of existing policies. All three Maritime Provinces have indicated intent to further study risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. On April 4th, 2011, Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister, Charlie Parker, and Environment Minister, Sterling Belliveau, announced that the province would review hydraulic fracturing techniques to identify best practices. The Nova Scotia government reports that there is currently no hydraulic fracturing practiced in the Province and that it is unlikely to have any within this year. The absence of current projects provides some breathing room for the government to consider options and potentially strengthen regulations. Citizen opposition has grown quickly in Nova Scotia and recently culminated this past Earth Day (April 22nd) when over 100 people held a protest against fracking in Halifax. The protestors expressed their dissatisfaction with Nova Scotia’s implicit ban on hydraulic fracturing and pressured the Nova Scotia government to institute an official moratorium.

New York Image by Adrian Kinloch

Missouri Image by M.V. Jantzen

This is a well site in Colorado. This is a typical scene for natural gas well sites.

On April 14th, 2011, Prince Edward Island’s Environment Minister, Richard Brown, declared that hydraulic fracturing would not take place without an environmental assessment and public consultation. Brown’s statements claim to prioritize the protection of the Island’s groundwater, environment, and fisheries over hydraulic fracturing. The gas company, PetroWorth, currently holds a permit for the rights to explore for natural gas over a large eastern portion of land on the Island.

Texas Image by Linh Do

Typical Gas well site, with man made ponds for processed fracking fluids

Pitsburg Image by Parker Waichman Alonso

Among the Maritime Provinces, New Brunswick is believed to hold the largest reserves of shale gas by far. Significant opposition to shale gas development has emerged within a number of communities in the Province, including Sackville, Penobsquis, Sussex, Corn Hill, Petitcodiac and Moncton. Nonetheless, after Quebec announced its moratorium on shale gas operations in March 2011, New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Minister, Bruce Northrup, responded that the province would not follow suit. The government has since continued to hold firm on this position, insisting that further study, appropriate regulations and industry best practices can ensure safe development of the resource. By contrast, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick has called for a full moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. When weighing the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, full cost accounting is necessary, bearing in mind how many jobs hydraulic fracturing will produce, whether or not locals will be employed to fill those jobs, and how long the jobs will remain. For instance, communities like Penobsquis that have experienced the most development of shale gas have so far benefited from few jobs. Further, a gas well may be in production for up to thirty years, but most on-site jobs disappear following the initial well and pipeline construction phases. By contrast, costs in the form of water and air pollution, habitat damage, reduction of property values, etc. may persist and even worsen with time.


Emily Phillips is an environmental studies student at Mount Allison University. Brad Walters is a Professor of Geography & Environment at Mount Allison University.

The Bees Knees

by Tria Clare

“I looked [in the Hive] and I saw a queen. I called my wife and said ‘guess what!? I have a queeeen!!’ So that was really cool. These are the ups. When you come back in the winter and you lose two hives, that’s the down side of it.” Chef Chris Velden speaks enthusiastically about his remaining hive, one of an initial three. Located separately (one in a subdivision outside city limits and the other two within), the suburban hive was an experiment, testing the flavours of the honey produced outside city limits. Chef Velden found that the two different hive locations produced totally different results; He attributes this to the differing diets each set of bees had access to. The city bees had a much different menu than their subdivision counterparts, with access to many more green roofs (like the one Chef Velden keeps full of herbs), trees and parks, such as the public Gardens. (

the-country-bee/ to read more Chris’ honey experiment)

Because of their differing environments, the hives not only produced uniquetasting honey but also grew differently. Sadly, the subdivision hive did not make it through last winter and was the first to die, with the death being blamed on pesticides present in the area. Just one instance of Colony Collapse Disorder: a phenomenon where honey bees disappear or die in large groups, and one that is happening more and more frequently. “Everybody wants to have green lawns, the best and nicest green grass, and the greatest flowers. In order to achieve that you have to put a lot of stuff on it. That’s not healthy for anybody. Not for your kids playing on it, or the pollinators using them to pollinate other flowers.”


Chef Chris’ raised garden beds, tended by Chris and his bees, atop the Radisson Hotel.

Chef Velden believes that pesticides are obvious reasons for bee deaths as they affect the food bees need to survive. This belief was only supported further when he opened the hive and found few bees present, meaning many of the insects must have perished while gathering for food. The second hive to perish was one from the city, and Chef Velden believes pesticides were not the only issue this time; In the city, more regulations restrict and ban pesticide use. There are several reasons a hive may die: not enough numbers to over-winter, environmental toxins, difficulty due to bee-harmful species like Varrona Mites, and many other reasons. Over winters, if bee numbers are too low, they cannot maintain warmth or move as a group to locate honey. Low numbers also inhibit their ability to change stored honey into edible honey. Hives with low over-winter numbers often contain bees found with their heads inside honey storage capsules, where they have died from weakness before they could eat converted honey. He believes another contributing factor is the limited variety of plants available for bees to make use of. Many stores carry the same limited variety of plants available for purchase, amounting to a limited assortment of plants growing in our gardens and yards. Colony Collapse Disorder is not simply local either. Pollinators like bees are dying more quickly than ever, with the hive-loss percentage for bees at a whopping 30-40% per year. This high number can be blamed significantly on transporting hives around the continent to pollinate crops. These bees are packed tightly into crates, mimicking hives, and stacked deeply on trucks. While on these trucks, the insects are fed a diet of sugar water, which lacks the nutrients necessary to maintain proper health. Once transported, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away to pollinate fields, the bees face yet another problem. Large expanses of crops leave bees with mono-diets, or diets with very poor variety, from large crops like almonds. The high rate of Colony Collapse Disorder is a scary trend, one we should not let continue locally. Severe effects can be seen in places like China, where the bee numbers are so low that crops must be pollinated by hand.

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For me, the arrival of Summer kicks off a long parade of culinary delights. Anticipation begins with the unfurling of fiddleheads in May. The following months are a delectable tumble of fragrant herbs, ripe berries, spicy chilis and fresh vegetables. The season culminates in a frenzy of preserving⎯drying, freezing and canning. But it is late summer, when the temperatures soar and the palette is alive with a thousand fresh flavours, that offers the greatest pleasure of all.


m S o d k o o W i ne e W & M ; ce with n a m y Su o t R mmer Ch l e a n t er egg t Ho e r a g r by Ma

scrambled in wood smoke and wine” (Root 274). For a less poetic and more botanic description, take a look at a field guide and pay careful attention to the gills. There is one other All year long I look forward to the annual mushroom formushroom variety that resembles it - the Jack-oage on the island where my mother lives with her husband. This island is a forager’s paradise: healthy wild spaces stew- Lantern. However, the gills of the chanterelle arded by a respectful community. Foragers here respect the are unmistakably unique, “forked and connected with small veins, giving the appearland, the animals and each other. ance of a network” (Gibbons, 145). Once the two cousins are pointed out to you, I love paying homage to a single ingredient - in this case the you are unlikely to confuse them. delectable chantarelle mushroom. And there is no better tribute than to harvest it from the wild and cook it fresh. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that foraging has its perils. Eating a Wild mushrooms put cultivated fungi to shame. When wrongly identified mushroom can be cultivated mushrooms arrived in Paris, Honoré de a lethal mistake, so it is important to Balzac revolted against “the insipid creature born in the stick to easily identifiable varieties undark and incubated by humidity. I have had enough of til you have more experience. Your first it...I forbid it to usurp the place of the chantarelle or the time out, you may want to invite sometruffle; and I command it...never to cross the threshold one along who knows a thing or two. of my kitchen” (Root, 275). Perhaps this is a bit unfair, My mom’s husband is a seasoned forbut I think he was on to something. ager and joined us on a few trips, teaching us a lot along the way. We also always The chantarelle is an easy forage for beginners. I first carry a field guide so we can try to identify came across this delicacy in the cedar woods sursome of the more mysterious mushrooms rounding a lake on Vancouver Island. I heated we come across, from bright red toadstools butter in a pan over my fire, tossed in some to ominous, wispy, black fungi. Other good mushrooms, boiled some gnocci and ate things to bring along are plastic or cloth it ceremoniously while ravens eyed my bags; pocket knives with clean, sharp blades; picnic table. long sleeved shirts & pants (bugs tend to enjoy the same environment as mushrooms); The Latin name for this golden waterproof footwear; and a sense of advenbeauty is Cantharellus cibarius, or, ture. The last two items come in handy when as Balzac would have called it, girolle in you’re on one side of a river and an enticFrench. As Tom Robbin’s aptly describes ing glade of orange chantarelle are on it, the chantarelle “looks like a ruffled the other. yellow trumpet, smells like apricots, has the consistency of chicken and tastes like eggs


Foraging, from start to finish, is a hugely satisfying way to spend a summer afternoon. I have to warn you that this activity becomes addictive and can be competitive. Here’s how a typical day unfolds: A group of us walk a few kilometres into the woods along a dirt road. The woods on either side are perfect conditions for mushrooms: relatively dry but mossy. It has rained since the last forage, so we expect the mushrooms to be replenished. We walk along the road peering into the woods until one of us spots the first chanterelle, cries out and lunges into the forest. Glimpses of ochre against the foil of green moss lure us deeper and deeper into the forest. We take only the best, largest mushrooms, leaving the small ones to mature for the next foragers and the worm-eaten ones for, well, the worms. We’ve learned to use our knives to cut the stem above the soil and gently clean off the dirt while they are still wet. The rule is to place only clean mushrooms in your bag. We often lose sight of each other, deep in the reverie of the hunt. After two hours of ecstatic rambling, we regroup on the road where we compare our half-filled grocery bags of perfect, deep orange chanterelle. Elated and tired, we head home to complete the minute task of cleaning the mushrooms’ gills before laying them out to dry. Our tools of choice are a BBQ brush, a cloth and a paintbrush. We dutifully start cleaning out the tiny bits of pine needles, moss and dirt that inevitably cling to the gills and stems and then lay the clean mushrooms out on a dry sheet in the warmest, dryest part of the house. For the next week, the loft of the house is scented by the most beautiful, earthy-sweet aroma. After a hunt two summer’s back, we saved a few fresh ones for a creamy mushroom soup. The mushrooms’ earthiness paired perfectly with fresh sage from the garden, complemented by a bit of bacon and parmesan. A thick slice of homemade bread slathered with herbed goat cheese and a glass of chilled white wine were perfect accompaniments to honour the ingredient of the day. Last summer, on an incredibly hot day, we set out for a hike in the relief of the shaded woods. Even without the intent to forage, we returned with our pockets full. We prompty fried these fresh beauties in butter and carried them down to the beach where we enjoyed them lounging on the hot rocks - the wilderness equivalent of the swim-up bar. This was possibly the single most contented moment of my life - hot sun, remote beach, refreshing ocean, hot buttery mushroom that I foraged myself from the surrounding woods of my favourite place on earth. One fruitful foraging trip supplies us with dried mushrooms for the entire winter. To rehydrate them, you simply soak a small handful in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then strain the soaking water and retain for stock. On particularly dreary days, we add them to a winter soup or risotto for some aromatic earthiness. The smell and flavour of the chanterelle always brings us back to that happiness of being in the woods, knives at the ready, stalking the wild mushroom.


Natural Stakeholders Protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from Oil and Gas

On the eighth and ninth of April, the Magdalen Islands hosted an interprovincial conference on the topic of developing an oil and gas industry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Hydrocarbon Forum was motivated by the archipelagos proximity to the largest unexplored prospect in eastern Canada: The Old Harry Prospect, which borrows its name from a nearby fishing village on the eastern end of Magdalen Islands. Featuring nine guest speakers, The Hydrocarbon Forum attracted over 100 representatives from all over the Gulf region. Outside the venue many locals staged a protest on the grounds that the oil and gas prospect is too close to the original Old Harry and the islands best fishing grounds. The livelihood of the Magdalen Islands and its surrounding communities’ coastal tourism sphere would also be in danger. In light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the fact that risks associated with oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are shared by the whole region could not have been more apparent.


Story by Marilyn Clarke Images and quotations from Irene Novaczek

Presenters included the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Corridor Resources (the exploration company interested in developing Old Harry), Sociology Professor Peter Sinclair of Memorial University and Gail Fraser, a Professor of Biology from York University. Participants included scientists, fishermen and environmental groups. The conference aimed to inform the Gulf’s bordering provinces of costs and benefits attached to developing the oil and gas industry, a topic which has otherwise been overlooked by the government. Under “benefits,” Corridor Resources argued that the development of the Old Harry Prospect would stimulate the regional economy, providing money for health and education. Other presenters countered this, stating that drilling for oil and gas places undue stress on biodiversity, jeopardizing coastal communities and the sustainability of the region. Furthermore, Lynne Morrisette from ISMER-Rimouski, Quebec`s ocean research center, cautioned that the interactions between the species inhabiting the Gulf and the Gulf physical environment (temperature, depth, climate, etc.) are still relatively unknown, making for a delicate ecosystem. Gail Fraser`s presentation focused on the impacts that seismic activity, waste water and spills can have on marine life. Like Morrisette, she too stresses the presence of knowledge gaps in Western Newfoundland`s environmental assessments, making it difficult to understand the true impacts of an oil and gas industry.

“...Inshore fleets look mighty small and insignificant. But they are in fact the basis for coastal cultures, regional cuisines and tourism, among other values.” “Lots of interest from independent media as well as francophone mainstream media.”

Following each presenter, participants were given a ten-minute question period. For both the CanadaNewfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and Corridor Resources, this time was exhausted. During Corridor Resources question period, Robert Courtney of the North of Smokey Fishermen`s Association asked why Cape Breton fishermen had not been consulted about the proposed Old Harry project, when clearly they would be affected. David Burke, a Magdalen Island fisherman reminded Corridor Resources of last fall, when the company had ignored a request to delay a seismic program until the endangered Southern Gulf Cod stocks had moved out of area. “Last fall you said that you would wait until the cod had left the channel. You didn`t listen to us then, so why should we trust you now?" David asserted. This sentiment was reflected in the protest outside the conference building. Fishermen, families and citizens, concerned for an island entirely dependent on fishing and tourism industries, held signs and chanted that the Gulf was in trouble. Lobster traps decorated the grounds and teenagers waved down passing vehicles, pleading for their future.

“Line-ups at the mike clearly showed the depth of concern..., after listening politely to their 50 minutes of ‘how to drill an oil well’, promises and reassurances...”

On the second day, to offer a solution for those opposing oil and gas exploration, Denny Morrow of the Nova Scotia Fishpackers Association spoke of how a moratorium was won for the Georges Bank off southern Nova Scotia. Morrow’s presentation, focusing on the ecological values and organizational strategies, was followed by three one-hour workshops. Gulf region representatives discussed the various themes introduced by the conference and contributed to the elaboration of a final conclusion.

Concerns of attendees are heart-felt as well as to the point.

After two long days the conference ended in consensus. Fishing associations, municipal representatives, environmental coalitions, attendees and presenters identified a need for an integrated approach to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It was argued that the negative impacts associated with oil and gas development in the Gulf could not be confined to provincial jurisdictions and that we were all natural stakeholders. As a finale, the St. Lawrence Coalition and the mayor of the Magdalen Islands asked that the Old Harry project be postponed until a public review could be conducted over the whole Gulf region.


Greening your Wedding by Nicole Renauld

Did you know that the average wedding has a carbon footprint of 14.5 tons of CO2? Neither did I. So when the love of my life proposed to me (after I proposed that he propose), we both knew we had to do our wedding our way, which meant breaking with many traditions and exploring ways to keep things green, socially responsible and budget-friendly. When I talk about my budget, I mean $5000, which is $22,000 less than the average cost of a wedding today. To make it work we are going to require a lot of do-it-yourself projects, free creative help (read: close friends) and crafty planning. Important to most, if not all, weddings is finding a big place to party. I originally wanted an outdoor BBQ/potluck beach party. Instead of the beach, my partner and I ended up choosing a local, nonprofit venue that caters at less than half the cost of previously sourced venues. Another deciding factor was their very paltry budget-friendly $200 rental fee. Other options people opt for are green-certified hotels and catering establishments, which can include socially-conscious cafes that support local farms, social justice programs and use recyclable containers. For our menu, we will negotiate with our caterer to explore local food options and donate any leftover food. And for the biggest menu item, forget overpriced wedding cakes; we are going with a plethora of homemade cupcakes. Finally, why not consider setting up a compost box? If you don’t have the property to use the resulting compost (like myself), many community gardens can certainly use the contributions. With some advance planning, there are great ways to severely minimize wedding waste.

Another major item, probably the major item, to consider in wedding planning are the rings. I have never been a diamond kind of girl. The fact of the matter is diamonds are a rather common gem, a standard resulting from a highly successful and aggressive marketing campaign by De Beers in the 1930s and 40s. Some Canadian companies, like Brilliant Earth, sell only Canadian and fair trade Namibian diamonds, and assure they are not only conflict-free but of ethical origin through socially and environmentally responsible mining practice thanks to… the following quote requires a synchronized cough… “Canada’s strict environmental laws.” The two Canadian mining companies Brilliant Earth deals with are Diavik and Ekati Diamond Mines in the Northwest Territories. With an ecological footprint of 1400 ha, the open pit mining practices of Ekati threaten caribou populations and contaminate river bodies, while Diavik has been discharging more ammonium than its original permit allowed, according to Mining Watch. So when it comes down to it, diamonds mined in Canada may be better than elsewhere but if caribou are dying and watersheds are polluted, I find myself thinking that for me, there really are no clean diamonds. Our personal solution? Beach-combing for beautiful sea glass and obsidian, and commissioning a local jeweller to carve our rings out of stone. Since, personally, my heart is in Newfoundland, it makes sense to have something local in my ring… that doesn’t come at the expense of caribou herds. I feel this is a great idea to personalize any wedding and have a one-of-a-kind ring to boot.

12 Image by J.K. Califf of Emery Photo Co.

Great, so we have a place and our eco-rings are on their way. Time to look at the guest list. Our invites will be done with recyclable paper, but another idea that really got my attention was plantable wedding invitations made with post-consumer waste and embedded with wildflower seeds. The symbolism behind growing a plant in celebration of a festive event is lovely and there are some amazing companies out there, like Botanical Paperworks who are more than happy to help out if this amazing idea interests you. Online invites are also a growing trend that allow zero paper use and much design potential, too. But what to wear? Your something borrowed doesn’t have to be restricted to a hairpin. My dress origin options are either homemade or second hand. For my fiancé’s threads, we are searching our closets, hitting up yard sales and frolicking through the thrift stores. My friend has offered to give me her used wedding dress to alter, and as for the wedding party, we’re not only giving them full liberty of choosing their wardrobe but we are asking them to choose something they can wear many more times. Décor is often one of the most expensive items on the wedding list, so why not grow your centrepieces that guests can take home? This will cut down on costs and also make your money last longer than just one night. Other options can include using items you have around the house - we are using books as our centrepieces to reflect our very bookish nature. We are having all kinds of fun entertainment, including carnival-styled face-in-the-holes and a trunk full of costume gear for our photo booth, using borrowed items that we have around the house. In lieu of guest favours, we are choosing to donate to a charity of our choice in the name of our guests. Traditional wedding gifts are not necessarily needed as they once were when people often followed weddings by moving into an unfurnished house. As for us, we don’t need any more toasters and dishware, so we are asking for cash gifts to either go towards our honeymoon fund or to donate to the environmental non-governmental organization booth we will have at the wedding (I hear that Sierra Club does some pretty good environmental work…). When all is done, we want our leftover items to be recycled through friends, families and charities. There are millions of great ideas available online and odds are you have talented friends who would be willing to help you create your low-impact day that is rich in meaning and full of heart. Image by Vincent van der Pas of


A Cool Building Option

July and August days can be hot in Nova Scotia. Most of us are not used to the humidity and soaring temperatures we’ve been experiencing in recent summers. However, there is more than one way to make this unusual weather bearable.

People living in large cities have a different kind of heat than those living in a rural environment. The ambient temperature is increased substantially by liberal use of dark asphalt or cement on city streets and black tar on flat roofs, all of which result in an oppressive phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island Effect. The Urban Heat Island is a sharp rise in temperature within a city’s downtown, where buildings, people and vehicles are most concentrated. The temperature of the surrounding countryside is usually a few degrees lower because there is more open space and greenery. Despite an ever-increasing emphasis on climate change and energy conservation in recent years, a new energy-mitigating technology has often been overlooked, particularly in sparsely populated provinces like those in Atlantic Canada. While there is some interest in green roofs: growing plants on flat rooftops - in Nova Scotia, the idea is not widespread yet for a variety of reasons, the most blatant of which is cost.


by Marney Simmons, Mayor of Mulgrave and a green roof aficionado.

Nevertheless, the advantages of green roofing on new and old buildings are too many to ignore, especially when combined with other energy-saving, environmentally sensitive options. Some of the benefits of using green roof technology are: Thermal performance: buildings retain more heat in the winter and stay cooler in the summer, resulting in increased financial return on energy costs. Storm water runoff: less water and contaminants enter municipal storm and wastewater systems, decreasing storm water management costs. Sound attenuation: plants are great sound barriers. Air quality and aesthetics: plants cleanse toxic particles from the air and provide a pleasing sight from neighbouring buildings. Urban agriculture and biodiversity: utilizing rooftops to grow edible plants. Urban development and the cost of worker health/ therapeutic use: urban workers and people confined to hospitals generally enjoy better health as a result of having a rooftop garden to enjoy. Real estate value: Green roofs have a positive amenity effect on real estate values. While there are many more benefits to incorporating planted rooftops into building plans, the question remains: why is the technology not more widely used? The first conclusion is cost. There is no set formula for calculating the cost of a green roof because every roof is unique. However, like many other technologies, costs are not likely to come down until green roofs become more commonplace. Two ways to make planted rooftops more commonplace are through policy and building incentives. In 2006, the City of Toronto

was the first Canadian municipality to adopt green roof policy, with protection of water resources being the most important driver. The Toronto Water Capital Budget was amended to reallocate $200,000 to a Green Roof Incentive Pilot Program, providing financial incentives in support of the program. The policy recognizes that green roofs hold the potential to mitigate impacts of development on storm water quality and quantity, improve building energy efficiency, reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality and beautify the City. City administrators are so convinced of the value and energy savings to come that policy requires all new, city-owned buildings dedicate 50-75% of their roof space to greening technology when a roof needs replacing. Green roofs in Toronto are achieved through approval of zoning by-law amendments and site plan control applications. A Green Roof Master Plan could be part of every municipal planning strategy, outlining environmental reasons for creating these spaces and the direct financial incentives for development plans in order to mitigate water and air quality problems. Big box stores and industrial buildings are ideal candidates for greening the landscape and inhibiting storm water drainage into municipal systems. A tax rebate for the amount of water runoff captured might be offered to owners of such buildings, to encourage owners of other large buildings to do the same.

building owners will be more receptive to implementing green roof policy in their future, and private sector investors and developers invest in new building technologies. FROM THIS . . .

View of Halifax harbour (Simmons 2006)


Further studies need to be done on building market value contributors such as green roof amenity space and the life cycle costing of buildings with green roofs. With more qualitative research documented, we can begin to hope that municipal governments, developers and P.S. s Simmon Marney a d e discover he Spa ly t n e c e r f on t reen roo g l u f t h g by Pines ig deli D e h t t a building esort! Hundertwasser House, Vienna, Austria (Dunnett 2004) R


G Ocaching! e

Looking for a way to stay active and outdoors this summer while spending time with family and friends? Well we have the answer! Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt taking place around the world and has become extremely popular in Atlantic Canada in recent years. Participants, or geocachers, use GPS enabled devices to navigate to a specific set of coordinates, where a geocache container is hidden.

By far the best part about geocaching is the hunt. Geocaches can be hidden in both urban and rural areas but are often found in really neat locations in your own backyard. Some examples of geocache locations include remote waterfalls, lighthouses, parks, historic sites, hiking trails, beaches, lakes, caves and mountains. Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a 35 millimeter film canister to larger than a five gallon pail. Inside a geocache you can expect to find a logbook to record your visit and optional swag items a geocacher can take with them in exchange for another item. Geocachers return the containers to their original location and login to when they return home to record their finds online. The geocaching website contains lots of information for anyone who is looking to get started. A free membership allows you to create a geocaching nickname and gives you access to geocache coordinates all over the world! You can use the website to query geocaches near their location and visit each geocache “cache page” to find out more information, including its name, coordinates, general description and most importantly: the hint – an interesting riddle or clue to help you find your geocache! Experienced geocachers can upload coordinates and create a cache page for geocaches they have hidden so others may get information on how to find their hidden treasures. The website also keeps a history of your geocache finds and hides, so that you can always make sure to discover a new adventure every time you visit the site.


In order to participate, geocachers must have a GPS enabled device capable of navigate to an input set of

by John & Jessica Langille

coordinates. Typical GPS devices are handheld units, but smartphones are a great way for new geocachers to try out the fun before committing to a purchase. Many department stores and outdoor stores sell a number of handheld GPS devices suited for geocaching from $100 and up. Anyone who is interested in geocaching and looking for more information should visit the websites of two major geocaching organizations in Atlantic Canada: the Atlantic Canada Geocaching Association (www. and the Maritime Geocaching Association ( Both sites have active discussions on geocaching in Atlantic Canada and members welcome questions from new participants. If you’re looking for a five-minute jaunt, a day trip, a weekend excursion or a week-long adventure, give geocaching a try! This new hobby complements many other outdoor activities and has something to offer everyone.

Return this image, coloured, fo a chance to have it featured in our next issue of The Sandpiper! Send to: or 1657 Barrington Street, Suite 533, Halifax, NS, B3J 2A1

Image by Tyler Durbano

The Sandpiper Summer 2011  

The Sandpiper is the digital newsletter produced by the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada.