Mayor denies Elliot Lake's 'head in the sand' over leaking mall

Follow CBC News Live Blog from inquiry: Lawyer for mall owner Bob Nazarian to testify Thursday.
Rick Hamilton, the mayor of Elliot Lake, speaks at the public inquiry looking into the fatal mall roof collapse. (CBC)

As the public inquiry into the fatal mall roof collapse continues, the mayor of Elliot Lake faced a question many in the community have been asking for the past year — did the city do enough about the leaky roof at the Algo Centre Mall?

Previous evidence at the inquiry into the deadly roof collapse has shown city building officials took little action, even though it was widely known the roof had leaked for decades.

On Thursday, the inquiry will hear more from an Elliot Lake lawyer who once worked for the mall owner. Antoine-Rene Fabris was retained by Eastwood Mall Inc. in 2005.

Follow a live blog of the proceedings from CBC News reporter Megan Thomas:

City took enforcement action: Hamilton

On Wednesday, Mayor Rick Hamilton was asked many questions about the relationship between the city and mall, including why the public library was kept in the mall, despite books destroyed by water and repeated health complaints.

Hamilton has also been asked what happened during the years when the mall was owned by Retirement Living — an agency created to revamp the city’s economy.

Lawyer Leo Longo, who represents the Ontario Building Officials Association, questioned Hamilton about what action the city took.

"Would you not agree that the city’s head was buried deeply in the sand when it came to doing anything about the leaking of the roof, or requiring the owners to do anything about it?" he asked the mayor.

Hamilton responded that he didn’t agree, and pointed to enforcement by action by the city’s building department in 2006 and 2009.

Longo also wanted to know if city council had done anything to review procedures at city hall in the year since the tragedy, to which Hamilton responded no.

Bunches of artificial flowers still mark the site where people gathered in the hours and days following the deadly roof collapse at the Algo Centre Mall. The mall has been demolished. (CBC)

Hamilton testified he is waiting for a report from the public inquiry, expected in 2014, to help the city make the right changes.

The public inquiry was established in July 2012 by the Ontario government and has been underway in Elliot Lake since March.

It was created to report on events surrounding the mall roof's collapse on June 23, 2012, the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, the injuries to others and the emergency management and response.