07/17/2013 10:40 EDT | Updated 09/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Elliot Lake mall owners 'wanted out'

The inquiry into last summer's mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake has heard the family who owned the Algo Centre mall was desperately trying to get rid of it in the years before it collapsed.

The evidence came Tuesday from the son of the mall owner.

Levon Nazarian is a real estate broker who was trying to sell the troubled mall for his father, Bob Nazarian.

"We wanted to get rid of the mall at all costs. As long as it just pays off the mortgage, we wanted out, as simple as that," Levon Nazarian said.

Last summer the mall roof collapsed, killing two people. Dozens more were injured or traumatized.

At the the inquiry on Tuesday, Levon Nazarian was led through a paper trail of failed offers of purchase for the Algo Centre mall in the years just before the roof fell.

Nazarian told the inquiry the situation was becoming more desperate. His family wasn't having any luck borrowing money for repairs and major tenants were leaving because the roof leaked so badly.

Nazarian said the stress of dealing with the situation was taking a toll on his father's health.

"I'm not in any way trying to get the sympathy of this commission whatsoever, but the amount of stress my father took managing this mall put him on insulin," he said. "When a son hears that about his father, I just want to get rid of it."

The inquiry heard Nazarian produced a brochure for potential buyers that cast the mall in a positive light. A number of offers came in, but they fell through because buyers couldn't get financing or were concerned about what it would cost to fix the mall.

Repairs too expensive

Around the same time, evidence shows the Nazarians were consulting with architects and engineers about options for repairs to the mall. Nazarian said those plans were shelved because they were too expensive.

He said they tried something else instead.

"We bought other sealing products from Colorado to use on the roof," he said.

"And they were not recommended by an engineer or an architect, correct?" commission counsel Peter Doody asked.

Nazarian replied, "Not that I recall."

Nazarian has maintained throughout his testimony that he never knew how much damage the leaky roof had caused to the structure of the mall.

Two people were killed when a corroded steel beam gave way last summer, sending slabs of concrete crashing down.

Levon Nazarian's testimony is expected to continue through the week. The inquiry will then hear from his father, mall owner Bob Nazarian.

The public inquiry was established in July 2012 by the Ontario government and has been underway in Elliot Lake since March.

It was created to report on events surrounding the mall roof's collapse on June 23, 2012, the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, the injuries to others and the emergency management and response.