August 18, 2021 by Jason Contant
Six tornadoes that hit Barrie and other communities in Ontario last month caused $75 million in insured damage, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
The EF-2 strength tornadoes impacted the communities of Barrie, Innisfil, Kawartha Lakes, Little Britain, Manilla, Lindsay, and Lake of Bays on July 15. With wind speeds between 178 km/h and 217 km/h as per the Enhanced Fujita scale, the tornadoes resulted in 10 injuries, 71 uninhabitable homes and more than 2,200 insurance claims for damage to personal and commercial property, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a press release Wednesday.
“We’re beyond thankful that this storm did not lead to any loss of life, which is the most important thing,” said Kim Donaldson, vice president of IBC’s Ontario region. “Homes, cars, and businesses can be replaced and fixed, but the same cannot be said of lives.”
The twisters blew off house roofs, collapsed walls and caused power outages, The Canadian Press reported last month. House and car windows were also smashed.
IBC said that tornadoes are a “sobering reminder” of the increasing risk facing communities across Canada. “Canada must develop a comprehensive plan to close governance gaps and improve climate defence overall, including enhancements to the current building code to protect against severe wind events,” IBC said in the release. “IBC is committed to working closely with the private sector and governments to improve Canada’s preparedness for and resilience to severe weather events.”
Days after the tornado, Barrie Coun. Natalie Harris said she planned to put forward a motion at a future council meeting that would have the city propose improvements to the Ontario Building Code to better protect buildings against severe winds. Harris told CP she wants to ask the City of Barrie to bring in a bylaw mandating hurricane straps for roofs of new local properties.
Insurance industry experts, such as those at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, have also advocated for inexpensive measures such as hurricane straps to help better protect homes.
Feature image: Damage left after a tornado touched down in a neighbourhood of Barrie, Ont., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov