What We Do
SPEC through Betsy's eyes.
Practical Solutions for Sustainable Cities
Founded in 1969, The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) is a non-profit charitable organization that addresses environmental issues in British Columbia, with a particular focus on urban communities in the Lower Mainland and the Georgia Basin.
Our Mission: To provide our community with practical solutions for urban sustainability.
Our Vision: A healthy, just and vibrant urban life that enhances local and global eco-systems.
Our Core Values:
- Rooted in Community: We are local, grassroots and volunteer-driven. We collaborate with other community members and organizations as a way to strengthen community and increase our impact.
- Respectful: We work with integrity and an open mindset. We listen to others and work to include other perspectives.
- Empowering: Through a positive and fun environment we strive to support, nurture, enable and educate community members for action.
- Purposeful: We value clarity, focus and a resilient structure that can make our work more effective and productive.
Education, Research & Advocacy
Through our public education programs and advocacy work, SPEC works hard to raise public awareness on issues and encourage policies and practices that lead to urban sustainability. We believe that by working together with citizens, government and industry we can reach our goal of creating a truly healthy, liveable environment. SPEC is a member-based society with an elected Board of Directors and a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. The Directors, members, staff and volunteers actively participate in SPEC’s on-going environmental projects. SPEC areas of work are:
- Food - building a more sustainable and resilient local food system
- Energy - promoting energy conservation and the use of renewable energy
- Transportation - advocating for sustainable transportation
- Waste - promoting practices that lead to waste reduction
- Land and Water - helping to protect our green and blue spaces
Fostering Urban Sustainability Since 1969
SPEC is one of the oldest environmental organizations in Canada. For more than 45 years SPEC has brought a range of environmental concerns to the attention of policy makers, industry and the public. SPEC was founded in 1969 in Coquitlam, BC. In 1981, SPEC partnered with the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada in creating the Vancouver Energy Information Centre in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. The building was now home to several environmental organizations, showcases sustainable building and living techniques and serves as a community meeting space until 2011, when SPEC re-located due to building maintenance issues.
The SPEC team in 1972! 4 vertical lines, from top to bottom:
- 1st line: Peter Witte, Jim Bryan, Ken Pattern (and his dog!), Allison Appelbe.
- 2d line: Ginny Howe Witte, Maggie Ziegler, ?, Gary Gallon.
- 3d line: Steve Boyce, ?, Allan Fossen.
- 4th line: Lindsay, Terry Chantler, ?, ?.
If you know any of the unidentified mystery people in the photo, please let us know!
SPEC's 45 Years of Environmental Work
Here is a summary of our work in the last 46 years.
You can also check out the detailed timelines below:
Climate Change and Public Education
Land Use (cont)
Pesticides and Herbicides
Waste and Recycling
Through its public education and advocacy work, SPEC has built a lasting legacy of environmental protection. Some of our most important achievements are:
- advocating a moratorium on offshore oil exploration and transportation
- advocating rapid transit such as the Sea-Bus across Burrard Inlet
- founding the Recycle Council of BC (RCBC)
- reducing the use of hazardous pesticides
- lobbying for a provincial Land Commission Act to preserve BC farmland
- pushing for the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline
- being a founding member of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
- opposing BC Hydro's Site C dam in Northern BC
- helping found the West Coast Environmental Law Association (WCELA)
- helping stop the proposed Vancouver Island nuclear power plants
- helping eliminate the use of DDT
- establishing the first recycling depots in BC
- playing a key role in preventing the privatization of the GVRD's water filtration plant
- working to stop the SE2 power plant
- promoting municipal by-laws to limit non-essential pesticide use
Over this time SPEC has called many different buildings home.
1969: SPEC opens an office and information centre at 4857 Kingsway in Burnaby
1972: SPEC moves to 1095 West 7thAve in Fairview Slops
1973: SPEC moves to 2007 West 4thAve
1976: SPEC moves to 1603 West 4thAve, under Granville Bridge
1979: SPEC moves to 3253 Heather St
1980: SPEC moves to 2150 Maple.
2011: SPEC moves to 2060 Pine St.
2014: SPEC moves to 2305 West 7th Ave