Barrie councillor to introduce motion calling for building code changes, incentives after tornado

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A City of Barrie councillor who ran to a basement for shelter as the roof of the house was torn off by a tornado last week will present a motion asking for changes to Ontario’s Building Code.

“On August 9, I will be bringing a motion forward at Barrie City Council to request that the Ontario Building Code and The City of Barrie, mandate the inclusion of hurricane straps in all new builds. This includes residential, commercial and industrial builds,” Natalie Harris wrote.

Barrie was devastated by a tornado that caused substantial damage to public and private infrastructure, including homes, businesses and vehicles on July 14.

Harris wants governments, builders, insurance companies and researchers to work together to strengthen standards for building codes and construction practices to mitigate the expected damage from climate extremes, severe storms and natural disasters.

In her motion, Harris calls for staff to partner with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, a disaster prevention research organization, to advocate for new measures to better protect homes from intense wind events such as requiring the use of hurricane strapping, clips or other devices in order to add additional protection to a home’s roof, walls and foundation.

Harris was visiting her son when the EF-2 tornado touched down. When she emerged from the basement, the roof was gone and more than 70 houses in the neighbourhood have since been condemned.

Gregory Kopp, lead researcher with the Northern Tornadoes Project says several houses were not built to code and could have been saved if hurricane straps were in place.

“We saw significant damage, but some of it was preventable,” Gregory Kopp said in an interview with Ontario Construction News. “If everything had been done correctly, there would have been less damage. We have evidence of the missing nails and that’s unfortunate.

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