Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rising Halifax harbour sea levels worry city council

Michael Lightstone in the Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Canada): City hall wants to prepare for a potential water level rise, over the next several decades, on both sides of Halifax Harbour. Regional council heard Tuesday that many properties bordering the harbour — including sites with commercial and public works infrastructure — could be at risk of major flooding due to projected sea level change.

In one scenario, during the next 100 years or so, the harbour’s water level is predicted to rise by at least 73 centimetres, council’s meeting of committee of the whole was told. It is part of a global trend prompted by climate change, municipal staff said.

Staff said the city should consider site-specific measures to address the rising-water concern. Council heard it will be much cheaper to plan ahead than to dish out money later, should disaster strike. A harbour research group has been studying the water level in the HalifaxDartmouth area, Bedford Basin and the Northwest Arm. Council voted to have the group of city staff, scientists and others look at all of Halifax Regional Municipality’s coastal communities.

Future development must be planned with sea-level rise in mind, the politicians were told during a presentation. Council decided public consultation will be part of the municipality’s harbour planning process.

Two councillors raised the spectre of insurance and mortgage issues with respect to having a home or business built close to the harbour. "The insurance industry is tuned into climate change," said Roger Wells, the city’s supervisor of regional and community planning and a lead researcher in the study. "The lending industry is becoming tuned in. There might not be lending opportunities or mortgaging opportunities if certain commercial or residential developers are going into flood-prone areas."…

"The Port of Halifax" by an unknown Canadian painter, around 1830-1840

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