Elliot Lake Mall collapse hearing adjourned to TuesdayFriday, March 15, 2013 by: Carol Martin
After a 700-page report exploring the causes of the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake on June 23, 2012 surfaced on Wednesday, Commissioner Paul Bélanger decided to adjourn hearings until Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to allow all parties an opportunity to read the document.
A hearing to inquire into and report on events surrounding the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake and to make recommendations to prevent such occurrences in the future began in Elliot Lake on March 4.
The report by NORR, a global engineering firm that conducted a forensic investigation for the Ontario Provincial Police, is the result of a forensic investigation that reviews the history of the mall from conception through construction, into care and maintenance.
It names key players who made decisions that may have ultimately led to the structural failure and collapse of a section of the roof of the mall, killing two women, injuring many more people and throwing the small, isolated community of Elliot Lake into turmoil.
An interim report released in November by NORR suggests the collapse occurred when a weld holding a ceiling beam to a support column failed but it's unknown if the final report introduced at the hearing Wednesday suggests the same conclusion.
The interim report says a beam supporting two large slabs of concrete broke away from the column supporting it just seconds after a car drove over it.
The interim NORR report calls that event the final straw that led to the collapse of the section of roof over a lottery kiosk in the mall.
What's more important is the chain of events that led to that failure and the junctures at which different choices could have been made to avert the final tragedy; and, if the emergency response to that tragedy could have been handled better and the full NORR report delves deeply into those questions.
The final NORR report, as it was introduced in the hearing on Wednesday, is likely to carry much of the weight of evidence the Commissioner will use to make his recommendations.
In light of the importance of that dense document, he decided it would be prudent to delay the hearing of evidence long enough to give lawyers time to read the NORR report.
Bélanger, a retired judge of the Ontario Court of Justice was appointed to oversee the hearings which will investigate the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo and the injuries to 20 other individuals as well as the emergency management and response at the time of the mall collapse.
It is not a trial, nor does it lay a foundation for criminal charges or civil liability.
Those actions and investigations to lay a foundation for them are continuing simultaneous to the hearing Commissioner Bélanger is presiding over at the White Mountain Building in Elliot Lake.
In his opening statement on March 4, Bélanger said, "The Commission has had to navigate carefully in order not to interfere with ongoing police investigations, as well as investigations by the Ministry of Labour,the Professional Engineer’s Association and the Coroner’s office."
The Elliot Lake Inquiry is expected to continue until about April 22 and 26 witnesses have been called to present evidence during that time period.
Under oath to continue to deliver evidence Thursday, under examination-in-chief, was former Development Supervisor, Algoma Central Properties, Rod Caughill.
His cross-examination will begin on Tuesday.
To learn more about the hearing or follow it as it unfolds, visit its webpage