Ontario’s First Safer Living Home Completed

Sudbury Home Designed to Weather More Intense Storms

SUDBURY, ON, Feb. 19 2007 – Confronting the challenges of increasingly destructive weather-related catastrophes will require new ways of doing things. And that’s exactly what the Designed…for safer living program is all about. Today the program celebrated a milestone as Ontario’s first safer living home, designed to withstand winds of 200 km/hour, was completed in Sudbury.

The program is a partnership between the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the Canadian insurance industry. The construction of the home to “better than building code” standards, which involved special building material and methods from the foundation to the roof, was funded by The Co-operators.

“The cost of damage from natural disasters has doubled every five to seven years since the 1960s, and more and more people are living in vulnerable areas. This is an alarming trend that is not sustainable and must be confronted,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators and member of the ICLR board of directors. “As an insurer, we see first-hand the devastation wrought by natural disasters. It is incumbent upon us to do all we can to promote safer living, and we hope this will encourage all stakeholders to embrace safer standards.”

The house, which was insured by The Co-operators, had to be rebuilt from the ground up after a fire destroyed the home. The new house was designed to withstand the most hazardous weather conditions in the area – wind storms and extreme winter weather. Special construction features include:

  • Impact-resistant windows rated for high wind pressures;
  • 5/8″ thick steel rods that anchor the floors together, including between the first floor to the foundation;
  • Steel “hurricane clips” and bracing to secure the trusses to the framing, and braced gable ends to withstand high winds;
  • Special shingles designed to meet 170 km/h standards, installed using additional nails and cement;
  • Ice and water shield over the entire roof;
  • Water-resistant sealing around windows and doors; and

Many of the special features were imported from the United States, where a similar program was developed several years ago by ICLR’s sister organization, the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

“Canadians have a tradition of building strong homes, yet we have the knowledge to build homes that are even more resilient to extreme weather events that are increasing in frequency and severity,” said ICLR executive director, Paul Kovacs. “We need to harness that knowledge to build safer homes for future generations of Canadians. This home will stand as a model as we work to build more resilient homes and communities right across the country.”

In the months and years to come, additional safer living homes will be rebuilt in various regions of Canada. The homes will be designed to be resilient to the weather perils in that area, which may include earthquakes, prairie wildfire, tornadoes and hail storms.

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of Western Ontario and a number of other partners. www.iclr.org

About The Co-operators

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Co-operators General Insurance Company is the leading Canadian-owned multi-product insurance company. The company is part of The Co-operators, a national group of companies owned by 34 Canadian co-operatives and like-minded organizations, that offers insurance as well as investment products and property development. An Imagine Caring Company, The Co-operators is well known for its philanthropy and community involvement.