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Elliot Lake's new mall opens 4 years after fatal mall collapse

The Foodland in the new mall in Elliot Lake is the first store to open at the site — and for some, the opening is a sign of a new era in the community.

Foodland the first retail store to open in the city's new mall since the fatal roof collapse

Local dignitaries and business officials cut the ribbon at the official grand opening of the Foodland grocery store in the new Elliot Lake Mall. The rest of the mall is expected to be open later this year — about four years after the Algo Centre Mall partially collapsed and killed two people. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)
It's a new start for Elliot Lake. The first portion of the city's new mall is open.It's been four years since the fatal mall collapse. The Mayor of Elliot Lake Dan Marchisella joined us to talk about the significance of the mall opening. 5:56

The Foodland in the new mall in Elliot Lake is the first store to open at the site — and for some, the opening is a sign of a new era in the community.

The old Algo Centre mall was destroyed nearly four years ago after part of the rooftop garage caved in, killing two people.

One of Elliot Lake's newest residents, 25-year-old Natasha Vaughan, says she's optimistic about the new mall's future.

"I think it's going to be a great opportunity for this town. I think there's going to be more jobs, more people coming back to Elliot Lake," she said.

"I know a lot of people left when the mall collapsed."

Foodland was one of the few businesses that stayed in Elliot Lake after the Algo Centre Mall collapse. The store relocated into a community centre called Collins Hall, while waiting for the mall to be rebuilt.

'Very emotional'

A Foodland official told CBC News it kept 48 of its original employees, and hired 52 new staff members.

"They're just so excited. They can hardly wait for the store to open," said Cindy Cameron, the vice president of operations for Foodland.

"They're very thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the community."

The opening ceremony was "very emotional," Cameron added.

"After the tragedy in 2012, we're honoured to be the first store, but also it's bitter sweet from what happened," she said.

Elliot Lake's new mall has partially opened with the grand opening of the Foodland grocery store on Friday. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Today's ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by Elliot Lake Mayor Dan Marchisella, Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, and MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing Carol Hughes.

"It's more than just the opening of a grocery store," Marchisella said.

"It's kind of a rebirth or a birth of a new era for our community."

Hughes said it's "exciting to see that people will be able to get on with their lives."

She noted the community is "starting to see a bit more normality now and, once the full mall is built, it's going to be [a] bonus [for] the people of the community."

Mantha agreed, saying, "this is the beginning of many other developments that are happening presently in Elliot Lake. There's a lot of tenacity and a lot of will, good will that has come out from this project and there are many other projects that are happening now as we speak in Elliot Lake."

The rest of Elliot Lake's new mall is expected to open this summer.

With files from the CBC's Olivia Stefanovich

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