By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty is expected to testify at the judicial…
TORONTO – Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty is expected to testify at the judicial inquiry into last summer’s deadly collapse of a mall, The Canadian Press has learned.
McGuinty, who was in office at the time of the disaster in Elliot Lake, Ont., and who called the probe, is likely to be on the witness stand either in late summer or early fall.
“He’s part of the narrative,” commission lawyer Mark Wallace said Wednesday from Elliot Lake.
McGuinty will only be part of Phase II of the inquiry — the examination of the emergency response to the collapse of the rooftop parking deck at the Algo Centre Mall that killed two women.
Questions have arisen about whether the overall emergency response to the unfolding tragedy was adequate.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM - 0 Comments
Part surveillance footage, part digital reenactment, it may provide the best explanation yet as to why the roof collapsed
A new video released today provides the clearest glimpse yet of what happened to Elliot Lake’s doomed shopping mall—and why.
Part surveillance footage, part digital reenactment, the two-minute video was prepared by NORR Ltd., the engineering firm hired by the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct a forensic investigation into last summer’s fatal roof collapse. The cave-in killed two women, injured 20 others, and triggered a controversial rescue effort.
“The mall was beset with a chronic leakage problem from the day it opened,” a narrator says, referring to the rooftop parking lot that covered the retail stores. “This went unabated due to the lack of a proper continuous waterproofing membrane at the parking level. Every owner addressed the leakage problem by attempting to seal and reseal cracks where leakage was observed. Water leaked onto the structural steel, carrying with it de-icing salt that accelerated corrosion rates to levels only found in marine environments. Corrosion progressed likely since the mall was built, until there was so little material left in one particular connection that it could no longer support the weight of the parking deck.”
By that Saturday afternoon—June 23, 2012—more than 85 per cent of the steel connection’s original weld capacity had been eaten away by corrosion. “Without support, the concrete panels collapsed into the upper mall adjacent to the food court,” the narrator continues. “The impact of the hollow-core panels killed two people.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:46 AM - 0 Comments
Maryland abolishes the death penalty and the UN celebrates the first ‘international day of happiness’
A big stick
Barack Obama’s decision to beef up anti-missile defences along America’s West Coast will be costly—more than $1 billion—but worth every penny if the message gets through to North Korea. In recent months, the regime of Kim Jong Un has started behaving as badly, and erratically, as his late father’s, with rocket launches, nuclear tests and increasingly bellicose declarations. Whether the Hermit Kingdom’s newish leader is trying to strengthen his hand domestically, or is really as paranoid as his predecessors, doesn’t much matter. The time has come for the U.S. to back up sanctions and diplomacy with a little menace of its own.
Better late than never
It took many months—and the threat of jail time—but the family that owned the ill-fated mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., has finally agreed to hand over tens of thousands of internal emails to the public inquiry probing last June’s fatal roof collapse. Bob Nazarian, his wife, Irene, and his son, Levon, had repeatedly ignored orders to produce the documents, but after commissioner Paul Bélanger took the rare step of initiating a court action, they bowed. The truth (or at least part of it) is buried in those emails. The public deserves to read them.
By Michael Friscolanti - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
A damning new report—including an animated recreation of the collapse—emerges at the public inquiry
An engineering firm hired by the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct a forensic investigation into last summer’s deadly mall collapse in Elliot Lake has issued a damning indictment of its fellow engineers—from the man who stamped the structural design of the doomed structure to the many inspectors who failed to recognize how dangerously unstable the building had become.
In a report tabled Tuesday at the public inquiry probing the Algo Centre cave-in, experts from NORR Ltd. concluded that the steel beams and bolts that held up the ill-fated rooftop parking lot were so thoroughly rusted by three decades’ worth of salty slush and rain that they resembled something from a “marine environment.” Yet the severe water damage, obvious to so many shoppers and tenants, repeatedly “went unnoticed or grossly underreported” by the professionals who should have spotted the warning signs.
By Michael Friscolanti - Friday, March 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
Thousands of never-before-seen pictures have been filed as exhibits at mall collapse public inquiry
A public inquiry into last summer’s fatal mall collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont., is only a few days old—and the revelations are already shocking. Shoddy workmanship. Crooked columns. A waterproofing system for the rooftop parking lot that was anything but. Before the mall even opened for business, it was destined for a tragic finish.
Over the next few months (and perhaps right through the summer, depending on the evidence), Commissioner Paul Bélanger will try to uncover the full truth: why did two women have to die that sunny afternoon, and why did it take specially trained rescue workers so long to reach them in the rubble?
So far, hundreds of exhibits spanning three decades have been tabled at the inquiry—including thousands of never-before-seen photographs either snapped or seized by investigators with the Ontario Provincial Police. Below is a slideshow of some of those chilling photos.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 9:51 AM - 0 Comments
At 2:18 p.m. on June 23, 2012, the weight of a single car driving over one weld on a single steel connector was ‘the last straw’
In the end, the weight of a single car was enough to bring down a massive chunk of the rooftop parking lot. “The last straw,” according to a team of engineers who investigated last summer’s deadly shopping mall collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont.
A public inquiry into the Algo Centre cave-in that killed two women and injured 20 others has just begun, with early testimony focused on the original construction more than three decades ago. But one crucial fact—the specific, scientific cause of the catastrophe—is now clear, thanks in part to a chilling surveillance video that captured the implosion. “The trigger of the collapse on June 23rd, 2012 is quite evident,” concludes a 700-page report from NORR, a global engineering firm that conducted a forensic investigation for the Ontario Provincial Police. “The evidence of this is overwhelming.”
The expert conclusion? Decades of water damage had so corroded the weld on one particular steel connector holding up the concrete slabs that it couldn’t even withstand the pressure of a passing vehicle. Just seconds after it drove by, the roof crumbled.
According to the report, one of hundreds of exhibits already filed at the public inquiry, the main culprit was a rusty steel beam that ran directly above the mall’s second-floor lottery kiosk, ground zero for the eventual collapse. Both ends of the horizontal beam were bolted to steel connectors, which were then welded to structural columns protruding from the floor. From a strict engineering perspective, it was a sound design that met all necessary building code provisions.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s reporter Michael Friscolanti discusses the inquiry in Elliot Lake
Maclean’s writer Michael Friscolanti is in Elliot Lake for the start of the public inquiry into the collapse of the Algo Centre. He’ll be filing regular reports to Macleans.ca. Friscolanti spent months investigating the tragedy and has written an ebook that you can order here.
In this interview from Day 1 of the inquiry, he talked to City News about what is known about the case so far:
By Michael Friscolanti - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 7:20 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Friscolanti reports on the first day of the inquiry into the collapsed Algo Centre mall
On the northbound side of Highway 108, the windy road that leads to Elliot Lake, Ont., there is still a large wooden sign directing motorists to the Algo Centre mall. “The centre of it all,” it says. Unlike the ad, the mall itself is nearly gone, ripped apart by a demolition crew. By the time the snow melts, there will be nothing left of the place but memories and questions. Many, many questions.
Nine months after a chunk of the mall’s roof crashed to the ground—killing two women and injuring 20 others—the “centre of it all” is now a second-floor hearing room a short drive away, where a public inquiry will try to uncover what everyone in Elliot Lake is desperate to know: the truth. Why did a portion of the rooftop parking lot crash to the ground? Why were the warning signs—incessant leaking, crumbling ceiling tiles, rusty structural beams—seemingly ignored for so many years? Why did Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo have to die?
By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Friscolanti talks about his investigation into the collapse of the Elliot Lake mall
Drawing from court documents, property records, inspection reports and dozens of interviews with the people who lived it, Doomed: The Untold Story Behind the Collapse of the Elliot Lake Mall, tells the shocking backstory of a mall that was cursed before it even existed, a star-crossed structure plagued by dreadful timing, dubious decisions and a collective case of wilful blindness.
By Michael Friscolanti - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:22 AM - 0 Comments
A special Maclean’s investigation by Michael Friscolanti
Last summer, Canadians held their collective breath as rescuers dug through the rubble of the Elliot Lake mall for two women trapped beneath the collapsed roof. Their bodies would be pulled from the concrete five days later.
What happened at the Algo Centre is about to be dissected at a public inquiry set to begin March 4, but a new ebook by Maclean’s Senior Writer Michael Friscolanti (available here) reveals the disturbing backstory of a building that was literally doomed before it even existed.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 8:54 PM - 0 Comments
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – Wrecking crews have begun to demolish the Elliot Lake mall…
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – Wrecking crews have begun to demolish the Elliot Lake mall where two people died and around 20 were injured when part of its roof collapsed.
“It’s bittersweet,” Mayor Rick Hamilton said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press when asked Thursday about reaction to the work in the small northern Ontario town.
“The mall has always had a close relationship to many of the people who lived (and) who were raised here but at the same time it’s a fresh start as well. It’s left a lot of bad memories and by and large what I’m hearing in the street is it’s high time it’s been removed from the landscape of Elliot Lake.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:32 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The owners of a mall that collapsed in northern Ontario were denied…
TORONTO – The owners of a mall that collapsed in northern Ontario were denied funding on Thursday to participate in the public inquiry into the tragedy.
In his ruling, Commissioner Paul Belanger said Bob Nazarian and his son Levon Nazarian had not shown why Ontario taxpayers should pay their legal bills.
“Applicants seeking funding must be forthright and provide the commission with a clear picture of their net worth,” Belanger said in his ruling.
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:08 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Relatives of the two women who died in the rubble of a…
TORONTO – Relatives of the two women who died in the rubble of a collapsed mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., are among 18 people and organizations applying for standing at a public inquiry into the tragedy.
Others applying for formal recognition include the northern Ontario city, engineers employed by the company that inspected the Algo Centre Mall, the facility’s owners, emergency responders and the province itself.
The inquiry, under Commissioner Paul Belanger, is delving into why part of the mall’s rooftop garage caved in June 23, killing Doloris Perizzolo, 74, and Lucie Aylwin, 37, and injuring several others.