A former maintenance worker from the Algo Centre Mall told the Elliot Lake Inquiry on Tuesday he worried the leakage at the now-collapsed mall was compromising the parking structure.
During his testimony, Ken Snow told the commission he spent most of his time chasing and fixing leaks on the parking deck, located on the roof that eventually collapsed on June 23, 2012, killing two women and injuring dozens of others.
Over the course of his 16 years working at the mall, Snow said he became increasingly concerned but didn't alert any officials about his worries.
The inquiry has heard how water leaked from the roof-top parking deck, became trapped between the slabs of concrete and eventually rusted the beams which caused the roof to fail.
Snow told the commission that his staff tried to stay ahead of the leaks, but he didn't change maintenance techniques over the course of his time at the mall.
On Tuesday inquiry heard building officials in Elliot Lake had the authority to order roof repairs at the mall, but didn't act on it.
Property bylaws in the city state the building officer may — at all reasonable times — enter and inspect any property. But the commission heard the city only carried out inspections when people complained in writing.
Former city clerk Larry Burling told the commission that buildings were only inspected if someone submitted a written complaint because of possible legal fall-out.
"Because he'd be on shaky ground if it developed into something serious and he didn't have that foundational complaint behind him," Burling said.
After a written complaint was submitted to the city, the city would then assess the complainant, who had to be willing to be a witness if the complaint process became a legal one.
Could have acted without a complaint
Burling noted some people didn't want to commit to the process if it extended past the written complaint, so they would walk away from the matter all together.
As a result, Burling said no one complained in writing to the city about the condition of the mall.
However, the public inquiry has seen evidence that a former librarian who worked at the mall, Barbara Fazekas, wrote letters complaining to the city about extensive leaking in the library.
Regardless of whether or not a complaint letter was officially filed, an expert with the Ontario Association of Property Standards Officers said the city could have still acted without a complaint.
"The simple fact that you haven't received a complaint about a condition doesn't mean that if you don't become aware of it you shouldn't take any action," Warwick Perrin told the inquiry.
Elliot Lake’s former chief building official, Roger Pigeau, testified at the inquiry last week he didn't order a property standard inspection for the mall during his nearly 20-year term.