British Columbia

Destructive weather now the norm, say experts

The extreme summer weather in B.C.'s southern Interior — from landslides and floods to wind storms — has become the norm, according to experts.

'How do we make our properties and our residents safer?’'

The extreme summer weather in B.C.’s southern Interior — from landslides and floods to wind storms — has become the norm, according to experts.

The once-calm West Kootenay has seen its share of fires, floods, landslides and even small tornadoes.

"You can't dismiss what you're seeing," said Trail city Coun. Gord DeRosa.

"We've seen in Christina Lake mini tornadoes. We've seen in Gyro Park windstorms that knocked down 14 trees. Extreme weather events are the norm. We'd better prepare for it."

DeRosa wants his city to be better be prepared for inevitable storms — a move the Insurance Bureau of Canada would back.

'This is happening right now'

The bureau just published a study that shows extreme and destructive weather is now the norm, and events that used to happen every 100 years or so now occur much more frequently.

Hundreds of people were stranded after a mudslide at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. (Leia Hutchings/CBC)

"What we are seeing is this is not something we caution we might see in the future," said spokesperson Lindsay Olson. "This is something that is happening right now."

Olson says weather-related property claims now top $1 billion every year in Canada.

"As a country and as individual communities, we need to take a look at what we are facing and say, ‘Okay, how do we make our properties and our residents safer?’’ said Olson.

In the West Kootenay alone, emergency repairs have already cost $2 million — five times the average annual expenditure of $400,000.

"What's changed this year is the number of events, which is five times the amount," said Hugh Eberle with the Ministry of Transportation.

The full cost of the destructive weather in the southern Interior is just being added up, but the tally is expected to be in the millions.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating