What was meant to be a rescue for human lives after a roof cave-in at Elliot Lake’s Algo Centre Mall may have been a battle of red tape — and the community is now looking for answers to why two women lost their lives when part of the mall’s roof collapsed on June 23.
Dozens of rescuers were on site in an effort to locate missing loved ones. But despite their numbers, the efforts seemed to be painstakingly slow.
For Kathy Caldwell, who held vigil at the site during the four days it took to find the bodies, the hardest part for the community was when the mission was suspended and residents waited a whole day for a heavy crane to arrive to stabilize the site.
"It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable like everything is taking so long," Caldwell said. "I’m really angry."
The Ministry of Labour’s Tom Zach said there were several parties involved in the rescue and that could have caused more harm than good.
"This is definitely something we need to talk about to the various different parties [involved]," he said.
Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha has called on the government for an independent review to look at the entire process and to "not only [look at] what happened during the rescue, but what happened prior to [it]."
Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed.
"We need to carefully review how we responded to this tragedy," McGuinty said at a news conference after touring the rescue site Wednesday. "My undertaking to you is that we will learn any lessons there are to be found here."
People took bets on building's demise
In a news release, city officials in Elliot Lake said they're turning over inspection documents for the Algo Centre Mall to investigators.
Former mall workers have said they knew long ago the building was unsafe, and some were even taking bets as to when it would crumble.
Ministry of Labour inspectors have been in the building to determine whether it will need to be demolished entirely.
In the meantime, the coroner has released the bodies of Lucie Aylwin and Dolores Perizzolo back to their families.
Funeral arrangements have been made for Doloris Perizzolo, 74. The Elliot Lake Funeral Chapel and Cremation Centre posted on its website she will be buried next Wednesday at Woodlands Cemetery, located steps away from the waters of Elliot Lake in the western part of the city.
Thirty-seven-year-old Lucie Aylwin was also killed when the roof collapsed and plummeted two floors down into the mall, where she worked part-time at a lottery kiosk. No funeral arrangements for Aylwin have been made public.