The Elliot Lake public inquiry is again hearing that the city chose not to act, even though it knew the now-collapsed Algo Centre mall wasn't structurally sound.


Syl Allard, former chief building official, City of Elliot Lake. (Elliot Lake Inquiry)

The former chief building official with Elliot Lake said he didn't force the mall to fix the roof — for several years — because there wasn't a formal complaint under the property standards bylaw.

"Unless of course there was an obvious unsafe condition," said Syl Allard. "Then I would be compelled to do that."

Syl Allard told the commission the Property Standards bylaw in Elliot Lake is complaint-driven.

Former Elliot Lake mayor to testify

George Farkouh, the mayor of Elliot Lake for 17 years, is expected to testify Wednesday to share what the city knew about the constant leaking at the Algo Centre Mall.

The commission is also expected to question Farkouh about years of secret council meetings and an engineering report the city paid for — but claims to have never seen.

Previous evidence brought forth at the inquiry includes several letters written to the city by various people — including library employees and mall workers — who complained of constant leaking, mold and falling ceiling tiles.

Commission Lawyer Bruce Carr-Harris read several of these letters of concern to Allard.

"I have noticed in the three years that I've been working here, I am always plagued with headaches, respiratory problems, coughs, itchy eyes, throat, etc."

Allard told the inquiry he never saw the letter.

"You just didn't make any inquiries to find out what was behind these emails," Carr Harris said. "Is that correct?"

To which Allard replied:

"I didn't look into it any further, I would agree with that statement yes."

As chief building official, Allard was bound by the bylaw to force commercial owners to fix or demolish buildings that were not watertight or structurally sound.

The inquiry heard Allard finally inspected the mall in 2006, four years after he became the Chief Building official.

He said he ordered the owners to fix the roof, but he never followed up on his request.

The commission has since learned the mall roof was never fixed.

The mall’s roof partially collapsed in June of 2012, killing two people and injuring dozens more.

Schedule of testimony:

Witness Name

Dates (subject to change)

Syl Allard, Former Chief Building Official, City of Elliot Lake

April 29, 2013

Blaine Nicholls, Architect, formerly with Nicholls Yallowega Bélanger

April 30, 2013

Sophie Dennis, Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations Division, Ministry of Labour

April 30, 2013

Brian Cuthbertson, Former Manager, Zellers

May 1, 2013

George Farkouh, Former Mayor, City of Elliot Lake

May 1 and 2 (and 7 if necessary), 2013

Judy McCullough, Manager, Customer Service, Scotiabank

May 7, 2013

Tom Turner, Former Mall Manager, Eastwood Mall

May 8, 2013

Brian England, Former Mall Manager, Eastwood Mall

May 8, 2013

Glen Day, Contractor, Peak Restoration, retained by Eastwood Mall

May 9, 2013

Andrew Holford, Engineer, Kleinfeldt Consultants

May 9, 2013