Salt with Pepper > City of Burlington lawyers hide behind old practices – ‘say nothing, tell them nothing’.

BURLINGTON, ON June 18, 2011 – Our friends down the road at the Bay Observer published the following. We couldn’t agree more.

From the Bay Observer, June 15, 2011

There is something wrong with a legal system that prevents opposing sides from coming to a mediated solution once lawsuits have been commenced. A prime example is the Burlington Pier debacle where the city is suing the original pier contractor along with the original project manager and designer of the structure over structural problems that have halted the project.

We now learn that more than two years ago that Walters Group, an internationally-respected structural steel contractor tried to broker a settlement that would have allowed all sides to save some face not to mention money but was rebuffed. A prime reason for the lack of dialogue is the fact that legal action has been commenced and therefore goes the collective wisdom, everybody involved must clam up for fear of prejudicing their case.

This is the kind of advice that Burlington councillors get from lawyers who have no incentive whatever in shortening or ending the litigation. And maybe the advice is sound maybe it is dangerous to try to resolve a dispute after legal action is commenced but if that is the reality; then it needs to be changed. Whether the Walters Group proposal to finish the pier is the right one, is irrelevant. The intent was to try to inject some common sense into a process that seems to be taking on a life of its own, with attendant spiraling costs.

The current Burlington administration has the construction of the Pier back on track and there is every reason to believe that the June 2013 opening date will be met. There will be cost over runs and given the nature of Mayor Rick Goldring, we can expect Council and the citizens of Burlington to be made aware of those costs.

Learning what was spent on legal costs will be like pulling teeth from hens. The legal department in Burlington doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand what transparency means. It is not in their interest to tell the taxpayers what was spent to handle the legal problems surrounding the construction of the Pier.

That however may change.

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