The City of Gatineau relied only on visual inspections of a storage facility that collapsed last winter, crushing four vehicles and sending chunks of concrete into an adjacent parking lot.

The building on Rue Montcalm in the Hull sector collapsed in early February, but no one was injured.

Denis Savard, president of Gatineau's blue-collar workers' union, said city workers were often inside the building to retrieve equipment stored there.

But emails obtained by Radio-Canada reveal city engineers never conducted a structural inspection of the building, relying instead on documents describing its general condition when the city bought the land from a roofing company in 2003.

At the time, the soil was the only part of the land physically analyzed by the city who then valued the land at $12,000, according to city spokeswoman Marie-Eve Sylvain. 

The building was then used as a temporary storage warehouse, she said.

The lack of a structural inspection is surprising, Savard said.

Sylvain also said maintenance employees carry out visual inspections of municipal buildings and report any problems to city engineers. When necessary, repairs are made, she added.

After February's collapse, Gatineau's mayor ordered a city-wide structural review of all municipal structures.