Volunteers help improve quality of life for others – our Committees are staffed with Volunteers from our community. Get involved to make Portland Estates and Hills an even greater place to live!

Environment Committee


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.

Gates and Gardens


In past this has been an active committee that included volunteer residents from both Portland Estates and Portland Hills. The committee met once every month from April to October to look after the gardens, shrubs, trees and flowers at the Portland Estates and Portland Hills  gates and the Birches Park area. They are responsible for everything, including weeding, applying fertilizer, mulching, pruning , trimming and dealing with pests and disease. Along the way they repair or replace plants that need help in these areas. If you love being in the garden at home you would have a a lot of fun gardening with us.  We are very fortunate to have great support from the City whether we need mulch, soil, trees or advice with the specialists they have on staff. We also put up Christmas wreaths on the two Gates every year.

Trails and Parks

The PEHRA Trails and Parks Committee was formed in 2001 to plan and construct a connected system of trails on public parklands in the Portland Estates and Hills area. Our major project –the paved multi-use Portland Lakes Greenway – is complete except for a short section at the northwest end. Committee members continue to monitor this and other trails, and we lobby our Councillor and HRM staff about specific issues related to maintenance, repair, upgrading, and safety.



PEHRA Trails and Parks Committee Report, June 20, 2022

Upgrade to the “Orphan” Trail.

The main Portland Lakes Greenway has a section at its Baker Drive end that remains unpaved. We refer to this as the “orphan” section. The Greenway-standard upgrade of this section has been delayed since 2010. We have been lobbying HRM staff for several years regarding this, and Councillor Becky Kent is very supportive of this project. In May David MacIsaac (Supervisor, Active Transportation) informed us that trail upgrade is included in the approved 2022-3 HRM budget.

The project is currently undergoing final engineering design. The design engineer (Jennifer Jeans) met in 2021 with Millward, and informed us that the normal grade standard could not be met on the incline adjacent to the trailhead mini-park. MacIsaac recently informed us that they are now targeting a maximum grade of 8% with a 3 m wide path (slightly narrower than the standard 3.5m). We have requested input on the final design prior to tendering.

Mapping and Naming of HRM Trails

There is confusion among HRM staff (both AT and Parks) regarding the naming and mapping of trails in our community. The main paved trail appears in some maps and reports by the originally agreed name of the Portland Lakes Greenway (and is shown as such in the 2018 HRM Greenway Map and on signage along the trail). However, some staff persist in calling it the Portland Hills Greenway. There is also confusion about the two sections leading from Russell Lake to Baker Drive.

In late May Millward was contacted by Katherine MacLellan (Intern AT Planner) to discuss the naming of facilities around the Portland Lakes Greenway. We met on the trail and I explained the location of the greenway, provided mapping for all the nearby unpaved trails (only some of which currently appear in the master GIS mapping), and also offered name suggestions for the unnamed trails. She compiled the mapping and her naming recommendations into a KML file for viewing in Google Earth desktop, or Google Maps on the web. Suggested names are the Osprey trail (paved connection to Freshwater Trail), Boardwalk Trail, Bellbrook Trail, and Morris Lake Trail. There is also a potential future trail on the east side of Russell Lake (Russell Lake Trail). The recommendations are largely for internal use initially, and will require approval from HRM Parks.

Update on the Wastewater Project

Our contact at Halifax Water (Renee Roberge) has provided us with an update on the wastewater upgrades taking place alongside the paved greenway trail.

  1. Dexter Construction began dismantling the temporary bypass pipe starting in early June. Dexter’s crews disconnected and gathered the pipe along the trail, with traffic control people on-site to guide trail users. Most of the disrupted sections of the paved trail have now been re-paved and restored to their original condition.
  2. The majority of construction at the Russell Lake pump station has been completed. However, due to delivery delays for critical components, final completion is now anticipated in late July.

Once all work is completed, PEHRA reps will do a final walk through with Halifax Water staff to ensure adequate repairs to the trail and remediation of any environmental damage.


The PEHRA Trails committee is pleased to announce that the Active Transport Greenway links to the Woodside ferry are now completed. The Mount Hope Greenway has been extended down Atlantic Street to the Woodside ferry terminal. This means you’ll be able to cycle/walk/ wheel/blade on paved shared trails (with winter maintenance) all the way from our community to the ferry, via the Portland Lakes, Baker Drive, Mount Hope, and Atlantic Street greenways.  View the map online at the HRM Active Transportation page.

Birches Park


PEHRA is pleased to announce that on July 24th, 2020 our Birches Park Gazebo received power!  We celebrated the Gazebo Grand Opening on December 8, 2018.  Providing power to the Gazebo required a great collaborative effort on behalf of HRM and NS Power to replace deteriorating poles, add poles and direct an underground line to our Gazebo.

Our community now has a wonderful, unique facility in Birches Park for relaxing in the shade or hosting community performance opportunities. Above, a photo of our Gazebo at night with our timed evening lights in action.  

We encourage residents to utilize the Gazebo respectfully so it will give our community years of enjoyment. To book the use of the Birches Park Gazebo for a gathering or event, please contact Tracy Murphy at [email protected].  If you have any other questions or wish to help organize community events using the Gazebo, please contact [email protected].  

Thank you all for your continued support, Dalyce Mallion, PEHRA Chair.

As residents of Portland Estates and Portland Hills, we can be very proud that we have a lovely park to enjoy in the midst of our community. The Birches Park Committee was formed over 10 years ago out of a concern for maintenance issues developing in the park. Some facilities were aging and in need of repair and our community was expanding rapidly increasing the demand for outdoor enjoyment.  In October, 2005, a group of PEHRA volunteers met in the park with Councillor Bill Karsten and HRM park staff to conduct a site analysis and develop a plan for future improvements to enhance the park and increase the benefits for all our residents.

A rough plan was drawn up, priorities and budgets were established and the work began!  The Birches Park Committee then held a community meeting to get input from residents. PEHRA has been successful in accomplishing the following improvements working with HRM, our Councilor, contractors, suppliers, local companies and fund raising efforts.

PERHA is an active place to share your concerns and your ideas for change in your community. With more volunteers, the Birches Park Committee can continue to develop the park to meet the growing needs of our community.  Get involved, have fun and make it happen! For more info contact [email protected] or call (902-448-1010.)



Pickleball lines have been painted on the courts at Birches Park.

Pickleball is being introduced to kids in teenagers in physical education classes in middle and high schools. And though the sport has become more competitive through the years, many players enjoy the social aspects of the game and the ability to stay active in their own towns and communities. As more retirement locations have adopted pickleball as an integrated sports activity for their population of residents, we have a seen an explosion of new court construction throughout the Canada. Tennis, racquetball and ping-pong players love the competitive nature of the sport and regularly participate in local, regional, and national tournaments.

Contact [email protected] for upcoming events.