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Rainbow Centre is safe: manager

The manager of Sudbury’s downtown mall is angry that some people are making comparisons with the tragedy in Elliot Lake and the state of the roof at the Rainbow Centre.
The manager of the Rainbow Centre said comparisons between it and the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake are unfair. File photo.
The manager of Sudbury’s downtown mall is angry that some people are making comparisons with the tragedy in Elliot Lake and the state of the roof at the Rainbow Centre.

Joe Zito said there’s no comparison and said any attempt to compare the two is extremely unfair.

Media outlets in Greater Sudbury received emails this week that said mall management was covering up a small roof collapse on the second floor, and that businesses in the food court were plagued by water leaking from the roof.

“I don’t know whose sending these anonymous emails,” Zito said, adding he spent an hour on the phone with city staff who received the same information. “This is absolute crap. There was no collapse on the second floor management office.”

He said an old leaky drain was removed from the second floor, under the supervision of the engineering firm EXP.

“There were times when steel decking was removed, that you could see up through the management office and see the skylight,” he said. “But it wasn’t a collapse. It was a systematic removal. And we replaced it immediately.”

He said city inspectors were present for the entire process. Some water did leak through to the food court while the drain was being repaired.

“But we haven’t had a leak in the food court, other than this roof repair, since we moved it there in 2007,” Zito said. “And I’m really concerned with this, considering all the publicity surrounding the tragedy in Elliot Lake.”

A memo has been sent to all of the mall’s tenants, he said, reassuring them that the Rainbow Centre is in excellent shape.

“We had the building inspected from rooftop to foundation last year,” he said. “We have a regular program of preventative maintenance. In 10 years, we’ve spent approximately $25 million in both structural and cosmetic repairs … We’ve replaced probably 50 per cent of the roof in the last 10 years.”

In the last week, the biggest news story in Canada has been the roof collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake. One person is confirmed dead, with more people still missing. Rescue operations continued through the week.

So tensions are understandably high when it comes to rumours of similar problems in other malls, Zito said. But the two cases are not comparable, because of the different forms of construction used.

Unlike the situation in Elliot Lake, he said the Rainbow Centre uses re-enforced steel beams that are themselves re-enforced with concrete.

“So the difference in the construction type and the structural integrity (between Rainbow and Elliot Lake malls) is like night and day.”

Zito said it would be unfortunate if the 2,000 or so people who work in the mall would be negatively affected by stories linking the two situations. The once-struggling mall has turned things around, and now boasts traffic of about 55,000 people a week.

“We’ve got 25 per cent of all parking spots downtown,” he said. “We’ve done our best to be responsible citizens. I don’t want an unrelated event to cast any shadows on that.”

Posted by Arron Pickard


Darren MacDonald

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