In late fall, the Elliot Lake Inquiry moved into its next phase, hosting a series of roundtable discussions requesting input from design, engineering and building professionals from around the province.
Justice Paul Belanger called for the roundtables when the inquiry began last March. He plans to use input gleaned from the discussions to inform his recommendations, which will be released next September.
The inquiry was launched following the collapse of part of the roof at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake in June 2012 when two women, Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, were killed and others were injured. Following the incident, the inquiry was struck to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collapse, with the aim of preventing a similar incident from happening in the future.
The first series of roundtables drew 16 submissions from organizations around the province, including the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the Ontario Association of Architects.
They centred on the increase of public safety, improving the sharing of reports and information, and the role of professionals and other building consultants.
Among the questions considered, the roundtable on increasing public safety asked whether things like periodic inspections of buildings, minimum property standards and training should be mandatory.
It also questions whether “building officials, including property standards officers, be regulated as a profession.”
The roundtable on reporting and sharing information examined whether the owner of a building should be required to register the information and whether it should apply to all buildings or just commercial structures.
Roundtable three, which focused on the role of professionals, asked whether the term “prime consultant” should be defined, with its roles and responsibilities “clearly enunciated.”
It also examines whether the idea of a “provincial engineer” should be adopted in Ontario. In each roundtable, participants are asked, “Considering the information you have gleaned from the proceedings of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry, can you provide your top five recommendations as to what should be done to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur again in Ontario or Canada?”
A second series of roundtables, held in December, looked at the issues relating to the conduct and management of an emergency response, including asking whether the provincial government has a role to play in managing and being responsible for search and rescue resources.
It also asks whether the Occupational Health and Safety Act should dictate the powers of Ministry of Labour inspectors in an emergency.