Hilary Beaumont

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Sea level rise is happening, so what is Halifax doing about it?

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Published on Jan. 6, 2013. Read the original story in The Chronicle Herald.

Planners John Charles, left, and Richard MacLellan outside their office at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. (Photo by Hilary Beaumont.)

Forty-five-foot long blackened oak beams form the cathedral ceilings of the 600-year-old New College dining hall at Oxford University. Castle scenes in Harry Potter were both inspired by and filmed in Oxford buildings with similar architecture.

There’s a story students and faculty like to tell about this medieval hall, as does HRM planner John Charles — one of the people tasked with preparing Halifax for the inevitability of sea level rise.

A century ago, students noticed sawdust on the tables in the dining hall, and discovered an infestation of beetles in the ceiling’s great oak beams. The college needed more oak to replace the ceiling, so they approached the Oxford forester.

The forester supposedly answered, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

A grove of oaks had been planted when the college was founded in 1379 to replace the dining hall beams. The planners had apparently anticipated the beetle problem.

The story has gained embellishment in its retelling, however. According to the Oxford archivist, the oaks were not planted for the express purpose of replacing the beams; it is simply standard practice to replant the trees.

Nevertheless, Charles says the fable illustrates how Halifax should take on sea level rise. HRM’s planning department is already preparing for the year 2100. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by hilarybeaumont

January 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Environment