Inquiry into Elliot Lake mall collapse begins Monday
A public inquiry into the collapse the roof of Elliot Lake's mall last June starts Monday.
2 women were killed as a sections of rooftop parking lot fell onto shoppers below--37-year-old Lucie Aylwin & 74-year-old Doloris Perizzolo. Dozens more were hurt & fractured the tight-knit community.
Inquiry commissioner Paul Bélanger has stressed the process is not to assign blame but to lay out what happened. Bélanger will also make recommendations to prevent a similar tragedy down the road. His recommendations could include legislative changes.
The inquiry is expected to strech over several months, sitting 9:30am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. The proceedings will be held at a newly renovated arts school.
The inquiry will have 2 phases.
The 1st will focus on the days, months & years leading up to the collapse. There have been suggestions that mall's roof design & construction & that there had been problems with leaking since before it opened in 1982. The mall's owners have also been accused of ignoring warnings about the integrity of the roof.
Phase 2 will focus on the emergency response to the disaster. The roof came down on Saturday afternoon. Monday afternoon, experts called off the search for survivors, deeming the mall the be too unstable. The call was made even though there'd been signs of life in the rubble early that morning & more than 2 dozen people were still unaccounted for.
After public outcry, then-Premier Dalton McGuinty ordered crews to pick up their search again. They did eventually find the bodies of Aylwin & Perizzolo.
20 groups & individuals have been granted standing for part or all of the inquiry. Standing lawyers speaking on behalf of a party with standing to ask questions of witnesses.
Among those with standing:
-Daughters of Lucie Aylwin & Doloris Perizzolo
-The City of Elliot Lake
-The Province of Ontario
-Algo Centre Mall owners, Robert & Levon Nazarian
-The Elliot Lake Professional Fire Fighter's Association
-Ontario Building Officials Association
-Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
-Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario
The inquiry is expected to hear from as many as 75 witnesses.
Taking the stand in the 1st 2 weeks are a structural engineer who oversaw construction of the Algo Centre Mall, a concrete slab supplier, the roof's installer & repairman & the mall's architect.
A lawyer representing the families of the victims expect the inquiry will hope fuel a lawsuit filed on their behalf. The families are suing the mall's owner & inspectors, Elliot Lake city council & Ontario's Ministry of Labour for $11.25-million.
Lawyer Roger Oatley says no amount of money for the families will bring back the people that they love.