Canadian Consulting Engineer

PEO takes steps after Elliott Lake tragedy

In the wake of the collapse of the roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliott Lake in June, Denis Dixon, P.Eng., president of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), is asking the province to create the position of a "provincial engineer," similar...

September 10, 2012   Canadian Consulting Engineer

In the wake of the collapse of the roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliott Lake in June, Denis Dixon, P.Eng., president of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), is asking the province to create the position of a “provincial engineer,” similar to the province’s chief medical officer of health.

Dixon said in a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty that a provincial engineer “could take overall authority for engineering works in the province, to provide specific direction in the event of situations like Elliot Lake, and to ascertain whether such situations are indicative of systemic problems.” President Dixon is scheduled to meet with the Premier’s staff on September 12 to discuss the concept.

PEO has also has begun investigations related to the collapse of the mall roof, which resulted in two deaths and several injuries.

The provincial Engineers’ Act allows PEO to initiate investigations even without a complaint being filed if it has “reasonable and probable grounds” that one of its members has committed an act of professional misconduct or incompetence.

Investigators appointed by the association’s registrar have the power to enter the business premises of the licence holder and examine any relevant material.

PEO has also offered to assist Justice Paul R. Bélanger, who is leading the public inquiry into the mall collapse. The inquiry is looking not only into the structural collapse, but also the emergency response, which was controversial and much criticized. One reason for criticism was the delay in calling for heavy equipment to the site which could shift debris to uncover victims trapped inside.

The mall roof had apparently been leaking, but a lawyer for the owner, Eastwood Mall, say that a firm of local consulting engineers had examined it and found its structure satisfactory.


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