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Rusty steel beams in Elliot Lake mall seen in 2009

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

Pictures show rust and missing fire-proofing on a number of steel beams

This 2009 picture of the steel beam that eventually failed in the roof of the Algo Centre was entered into evidence. The picture is from a report by engineer Robert Wood, in which he raised concerns about lack of fireproofing on beam, but did not find a problem with the structure. (Elliot Lake Public Inquiry)

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:

WitnessDates (subject to change)
PART ONE - COLLAPSE
Bruce Ewald, Chief Building Official, City of Elliot LakeMay 24, 2013
Judy McCulloch, Manager, Customer Service, ScotiabankMay 27, 2013
Don Denley, Former City of Elliot Lake CouncillorMay 27, 2013
Sonia Saari, Structural Engineer, CorselabMay 28, 2013
Tom Turner, Former Mall Manager, Eastwood MallMay 28, 2013
Panel: Hassan Saffarini, P. Eng - NORR Chris Hughes, Architect - NORR Pouria Ghods, P. Eng - Giatec Scientific Aaron Dinovitzer, P. Eng - BMT Fleet TechnologyMay 29 and 30, 2013
Rhonda Lendt (Bear), Former Mall Manager, Eastwood MallJune 4, 2013
Philip Sarvinis, Engineer, Read Jones Christofferson, retained by Eastwood MallJune 5, 2013
Ralph Regan, Former Inspector, Ministry of LabourJune 5, 2013
Tracy Patrick, Former Assistant to Robert Wood and Gregory Saunders, M.R. WrightJune 6, 2013
Gregory Saunders, Engineer, M.R. WrightJune 6, 2013
Robert Woods, M.R. WrightJune 7 and 10, 2013
Antoine-René Fabris, Lawyer, retained by Eastwood MallJune 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 LakeJune 12, 2013
Lesley Sprague, City ClerkJune 13, 2013
Ed Hudson, Former Inspector, Ministry of LabourJune 13, 2013
Majid Milani-Nia or Jaime M. Hass, PinchinJune 14, 2013
Ron McCowan, McCowan and Associates, considered purchase of MallJune 14, 2013
Rick Hamilton, Mayor, City of Elliot LakeJuly 8, 2013
Roger Jeffries, Engineer, Ministry of LabourJuly 9, 2013
Robert Racko, DeveloperJuly 10, 2013
Dale Craig, Expert, Engineer, J.L. RichardsJuly 10, 2013
Levon Nazarian, Leasing manager and real estate advisor, Eastwood MallStarting 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 MallWeek of July 15, 2013