Cornwall Ontario – I was stunned when I heard about this memo distributed to staff and vendors of Cornwall Square after our story about the condition of the parking garage. I was even more stunned when I received multiple copies of the documents.
Karen Burns, manager of the square who signed this document, clearly shows why she probably shouldn’t be managing a mall when she calls the largest newspaper in her city; with probably more actual traffic than all the other media combined, a “Social Media Site”.
Hey, we’ve been called worse. What’s most disturbing about this memo is that she is accusing us of lying. In nearly five years CFN has never had to print a retraction or been sued. We ourselves have issued suit six times winning four cases with two cases before the court; because of this exact type of statement and attitude. Nor have we ever had to print a retraction.
What Ms Burns doesn’t realize is that many that work in Cornwall Square are loyal readers of CFN; the largest newspaper in her city. And many were shocked to see such a memo. When I walked through the mall Tuesday several mentioned the memo and gave me copies. They were upset not just at the slurring of their community newspaper; but the feeling that something was possibly being covered up.
What we know is that after the story hit last Friday, as Ms Burns mentions in her memo, a team of PR people and management along with an engineering firm put together document(s). An ADVERTORIAL was published in Our Home Town whose founder is….Chris Savard; former manager of …..Cornwall Square.
A release was sent to “media partners” who then simply published excerpts of the document sent from Cornwall Square.
This is akin to when headlines blared across the Standard Freeholder declaring that Mayor Kilger was not in Conflict of Interest….because his lawyer said so….
Elliot Lake collapse footage
Cornwall Square’s document below.
Calls were sent to City Hall on Friday and still have not been returned. I spoke with one city councilor over the weekend who said they’d investigate and get back to me. That councilor has yet to contact me.
Today I spoke with another councilor who said that he’d spoken with city staff who the councilor stated had said that all was fine at The Square.
I asked this same councilor if he had known about the four cases and counting of reported falling concrete in the parking garage, or the concrete that fell from an outer wall across from Kastner’s on First street that allegedly struck a car; or the allegations that some of the roof in the food court fell on a group of students?
The councilor said that he had not.
Nobody wants to see another Elliot Lake in Cornwall. There seems to be a lack of accountability. The Ministry of Labour can only investigate and ensure that workers are safe and when I spoke with a rep in our original story they seemed to infer that it was up to the City to police the mall?
1996: A city report titled “Downtown, Core, and Industrial Area Improvements” is very critical of the overall design and aesthetic appearance of the Algo Centre Mall. Around this time, the mall begins to suffer from leaking and water problems.
2005: Bob Nazarian of Eastwood Incorporated acquires the Algo Centre Mall for $6.2 million.
2007: The owner of mall food vendor Starlight Cafe sues Eastwood Incorporated, alleging in court documents that leaks above her shop twice caused the roof to collapse, forcing her to close the business. She is ultimately awarded $11,000 in damages.
2008: Leaks continue to plague vendors at Algo Centre Mall. The Bank of Nova Scotia is forced to close its outlet for more than a week to deal with water damage. Whole sections of the Elliot Lake Public Library (located in Algo Centre) are closed to the public due to concerns over mold.
June 2008: Owner Bob Nazarian and Eastwood Incorporated announce plans to repair and renovate the roof of the Algo Centre Mall. Architect John Clinckett is retained to install a protective membrane on the roof to keep water out (which had been part of the original 1979 design for the mall) as well as add a layer of asphalt to maintain rooftop parking.
2008-2009: According to a former manager of Algo Centre Mall, Nazarian balked at the $1 million price tag of repairs and cancelled the contract. Nazarian hires contractors Peak Building Restoration to complete repairs. According to court documents, Peak completes $823, 657 of worth of work on the roof, but are paid only a small fraction of that by Nazarian.
2010: Engineering consulting firm Read Jones Christofferson Ltd. is hired to perform a feasibility study on retrofitting the mall. In court documents, the firm alleges it wasn’t paid $23,825.
2011: A section of concrete crashes through the roof of Algo Centre restaurant Hungry Jack’s. Both mall management and the city are notified, but according to a restaurant employee the city’s inspector never arrives, and nothing is heard from Algo Centre management. The restaurant is adjacent to the location of the 2012 roof collapse.
March 2012: Mall management pleads guilty in court to having sprinklers and fire alarms that failed to code. $50,000 is spent upgrading the fire-prevention systems at the mall.
May 2012: According to Rhonda Bear, manager of Algo Centre Mall, an engineering and structural study is done (a month before the deadly collapse), but fails to turn up anything.
Saturday, June 23rd, 2:19 PM: The roof of the Algo Centre mall collapses. Two cars fall through the 40-by-80-foot gap. The mall is evacuated, and two people are reported missing.
4:00 PM: Mayor Rick Hamilton declares a state of emergency.
8:00 PM: The Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team (HUSAR) is deployed to Elliot Lake to assist in rescue efforts. Included are approximately 40 police, EMS, firefighter, and public safety personnel.
Sound a little scary and sorta familiar yet?
More sadly is the apparent hesitancy of the “media partners” of Cornwall Square to investigate an official complaint lodged at City Hall against the Square’s parking garage and speak to the Ministry of Labour, and the city’s apparent silence.
The big question is whether the parking garage should be closed until repairs are concluded and the garage officially deemed safe by whomever is the official authority.
If there is a tragedy at this point we surely know who should be prosecuted and held accountable. As someone posted today; there are occasional earthquakes in Cornwall. Could the mall and parking garage withstand a good shaking in its condition?
What do you think dear CFN viewers? You can post your comments below. And what is it with these folks that can’t accept that CFN is a Newspaper? There are thousands of Online Newspapers in existence now and some of them are much larger than print editions; many of which have shuttered and are only online now?