Since 1989, the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee (CEAC) has been involved in local and regional environmental issues. CEAC has approached environmental concerns as opportunities to seek solutions by engaging stakeholders, other organizations and citizens. This approach has garnered CEAC much respect and an esteemed position in the community.

CEAC was formed by a group of citizens concerned about a variety of issues.  Their first focus was to establish recycling facilities in Cochrane. Funds were secured for recycling bins and the facility was operated successfully by volunteers for four years, after which the responsibility was passed on to the town. The success came at a high price to CEAC though, resulting in significant volunteer burnout and the near demise of the group. But a small group of dedicated individuals persevered, helping CEAC achieve many more significant accomplishments.

CEAC is an apolitical organization with a mission to make Cochrane and area a more environmentally aware and active community. To this day, CEAC’s many successes are a testament to the passion, knowledge and skills of a relatively small core of members. CEAC’s philosophy has been to leverage its small resources through a wide variety of projects and organizations to find workable solutions.

This approach is highlighted by a host of projects and initiatives over the last 20 years. CEAC helped form and co-chair one of the first Canadian non-governmental brownfield development committees in the late 1990s. Twenty different stakeholders addressed health and environmental concerns related to the proposed remediation of a creosote contaminated site within Cochrane’s core. During its tenure, the committee met bi-monthly for 16 months, resulting in a significantly enhanced remedial action plan.

CEAC’s collaborative approach has also resulted in two highly successful conferences in Cochrane. In 2006, over 150 participants attended the Low Impact Development Conference to learn about and work on real-life applications of this ecosystem-based approach to stormwater and land development issues. Very recently, in May 2009, CEAC hosted the Pathways 2 Sustainability Conference which utilised a unique and highly interactive conference format to introduce the Alberta ¬†Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) model of sustainability planning and implementation to many Alberta municipalities.

Over the years, CEAC has found many ways to educate and enhance awareness of our inter-relationships with the natural world and the impact of our lifestyle choices on the health of the community and the Earth’s ecosystems. CEAC worked with Cochrane Coffee Traders to introduce bird-friendly coffee to the many patrons of this popular coffee establishment. The Naturescape Cochrane Initiative promoted alternative gardening strategies and water conservation in landscaping practices. Over the span of four years, seven well-attended workshops were held featuring a wide variety of guest speakers, displays and interactive forums. CEAC has directed efforts and provided funding for invasive species removal, school yard naturalization, conference sponsorships, and the highly acclaimed Cochrane High School Alternative Energy Project.

Virtually all of CEAC’s funding is derived from the operation of the local Farmers’ Market. The market also helps fulfill another core belief of undertaking projects that encourage local environmental responsibility and a sense of community. The busy summer market is very popular with locals who enjoy the social aspect as much as supporting regional producers and artisans.

CEAC, through its many endeavours and efforts, is focused on encouraging participation and fostering hope in the challenge of ensuring an environmentally sustainable future, not only locally, but well beyond Cochrane.