Just three years before the fatal Elliot Lake mall collapse, pictures were taken of rusting structural steel found inside the mall, the public inquiry has learned.

Under questioning at the public inquiry,  Elliot Lake's chief building official, Bruce Ewald, led inquiry lawyers through a series of pictures he took during his inspection of the Algo Centre Mall in 2009.

The pictures show rust and a lack of fire-proofing on a number of steel beams — including the one that ultimately gave way last summer.

When the beam failed in the summer of 2012, concrete slabs crashed through the floors below, killing two women.

Order issued

Ewald testifed he was concerned enough about the condition and structure of the mall in September of 2009 to issue an order to remedy under the property standards act. That order required the owner of the mall to fix the leaking roof and have an engineer assess the structure.

Evidence introduced at the inquiry showed engineer Robert Wood inspected the mall in the months following.


The Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake as it appeared in October of 2012. The mall has since been demolished. (Yvon Theriault/Radio Canada)

But the documents showed it was a visual inspection —  meaning no drywall or other impediments were removed to see what was going on where steel beams were not visible.

Questions were also raised at the inquiry about the "scope of work" Wood was given for that inspection.

Documents showed he only investigated sections of the mall where serious leaking was known to have occurred, rather than the entire mall, as the order required.

Ewald testified the order to remedy was lifted in February of 2010 because it was felt all conditions had been met.

The inquiry was established in July 2012 by the Ontario government to report on events surrounding the mall roof's collapse, and the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, as well as the injuries to others and the emergency management and response.

Hearings began March 4 and are expected to conclude with testimony from former premier Dalton McGuinty on Sept. 12.

Elliot Lake inquiry schedule of testimony:

Witness Dates (subject to change)
Bruce Ewald, Chief Building Official, City of Elliot Lake May 24, 2013
Judy McCulloch, Manager, Customer Service, Scotiabank May 27, 2013
Don Denley, Former City of Elliot Lake Councillor May 27, 2013
Sonia Saari, Structural Engineer, Corselab May 28, 2013
Tom Turner, Former Mall Manager, Eastwood Mall May 28, 2013
Panel: Hassan Saffarini, P. Eng - NORR Chris Hughes, Architect - NORR Pouria Ghods, P. Eng - Giatec Scientific Aaron Dinovitzer, P. Eng - BMT Fleet Technology May 29 and 30, 2013
Rhonda Lendt (Bear), Former Mall Manager, Eastwood Mall June 4, 2013
Philip Sarvinis, Engineer, Read Jones Christofferson, retained by Eastwood Mall June 5, 2013
Ralph Regan, Former Inspector, Ministry of Labour June 5, 2013
Tracy Patrick, Former Assistant to Robert Wood and Gregory Saunders, M.R. Wright June 6, 2013
Gregory Saunders, Engineer, M.R. Wright June 6, 2013
Robert Woods, M.R. Wright June 7 and 10, 2013
Antoine-René Fabris, Lawyer, retained by Eastwood Mall June 11, 2013 ** To start with Mr. Fabris' testimony on June 10 if done with Mr. Wood before the end of the day on June 10. 
Rob DeBortoli, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Elliot Lake June 12, 2013
Lesley Sprague, City Clerk June 13, 2013
Ed Hudson, Former Inspector, Ministry of Labour June 13, 2013
Majid Milani-Nia or Jaime M. Hass, Pinchin June 14, 2013
Ron McCowan, McCowan and Associates, considered purchase of Mall June 14, 2013
Rick Hamilton, Mayor, City of Elliot Lake July 8, 2013
Roger Jeffries, Engineer, Ministry of Labour July 9, 2013
Robert Racko, Developer July 10, 2013
Dale Craig, Expert, Engineer, J.L. Richards July 10, 2013
Levon Nazarian, Leasing manager and real estate advisor, Eastwood Mall Starting July 11 and continuing for the rest of the week of July 8 (and week of July 15 if necessary), 2013
Robert Nazarian, Owner, Eastwood Mall Week of July 15, 2013