Elliot Lake mall collapse investigation needs 'second look,' resident says

A petition is circulating, urging the provincial government to instruct Ontario Provincial Police to re-examine the fatal 2012 Elliot Lake mall collapse.

Only one person has been criminally charged in connection with the 2012 disaster

A worker walks back from rubble at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., in 2012. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

A petition is circulating, urging the provincial government to instruct Ontario Provincial Police to re-examine the fatal Elliot Lake mall collapse. 

Two people died and more than a dozen others were injured when a portion of the building's rooftop parking deck gave way on June 23, 2012. 

An extensive police investigation followed, but only one person has been criminally charged. 

"There's a great uprising here right now regarding like what? One guy? What about the rest?" Elliot Lake resident Keith Moyer said. 

"People are disappointed."

As a response, Moyer created a Change.org petition to ramp up pressure on authorities. 

Moyer notes a public inquiry that was launched into the catastrophe revealed many people neglected the state of the mall over its 33 years of existence. 

He is requesting that all documents, exhibits and testimony from the inquiry be fully reviewed, and witnesses be re-interviewed to find out who was ultimately responsible for the collapse. 

Former engineer Robert Wood is currently being tried at Superior Court in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on three counts of criminal negligence in connection with the disaster.

Wood was the last person to inspect the shopping centre just weeks before it caved in. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

OPP recently told CBC they do not anticipate laying any more charges in relation to the incident unless new evidence comes to light. 

Former engineer Robert Wood is the only person facing trial in connection to the 2012 Elliot Lake mall collapse that killed two people and injured more than a dozen others. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)

Petition has no bearing on justice system

Moyer's petition will not carry much weight in the justice system, according to criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt. 

"An outpouring of public sympathy, public support or public condemnation does nothing to change whether grounds exist and the evidence would support prosecution," Spratt said. 

"If there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence occurred and the evidence supports that then charges should be laid if it's in the public interest. If there's not, then charges shouldn't."

Kent Roach, a professor in law at the University of Toronto, agreed. 

"The prosecutor should listen to victims' concerns, but ultimately must decide whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and exercise independent judgment when doing so," Roach said. 

"Much the same independence applies to police decisions in starting or re-starting investigations."

Still, Moyer is hopeful his petition will lead to accountability.

"This may be one way to awaken somebody and say, yeah, we really need to take a second look at this," he said.

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.