Bitcoin: Digital Gold?

By Georgia Cavalcanti

December 2nd, 2023



Bitcoin and the blockchain are well-known to everyone nowadays. However, the inner mechanisms of cryptocurrency technology often elude many. One of the primary assumptions is that Bitcoin is like digital gold.

Bitcoin emerged as an alternative to fiat currency in 2008.

While that might be true, much more is happening with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. In this article, we’ll clarify some important concepts and explain some intriguing proposals that can show the value of these assets as much more than a medium to store value.

It’ll become evident how important and disruptive this technology is and why there are such things as crypto casino games, decentralised apps, and many other interesting concepts.

How It Works

Bitcoin emerged as an alternative to fiat currency in 2008. Naturally, it’s a concept tied to economics, so it’s used profusely in online casinos. However, let’s briefly forget Bitcoin’s economic value and delve into the technical aspects.

Bitcoin is a network with no central authority. That means all users participating in this network are at the same level. In this network, users can send and receive bitcoins and store them in a Bitcoin wallet.

That’s when the concept of “blockchain” shows up. It’s a public ledger, meaning it’s a registry of all transactions throughout the network. Each user has all the data everybody else has. This is why it’s called a decentralised network.

There are enormous implications for this. First, you can send and receive bitcoins anywhere, at all times. Since no one controls it, there are low to no fees, depending on the transaction type. Plus, there can’t be any manipulation.

For example, central banks control the supply of money in a country. They can decide to enable certain policies to exert control, which might be unfavourable for people. This isn’t the case with Bitcoin.

Since it works by consensus, it’s almost impossible to tamper with. If a hacker wanted to manipulate the network, they would have to somehow control a significant amount of participating devices, which is almost impossible.

Gold, Casinos, and More

Some of the best examples of Bit Coin use are online casinos.

Bitcoin was purposely developed as a finite asset. Only 21 million bitcoins are possible, and only about 1.5 million are left to be rewarded. In this respect, it’s the same as gold because it also is a finite resource.

This scarcity and the novel approach to economics have led to the incredible Bitcoin revolution as a store of value. However, there are many other uses for it.

Some of the best examples are online casinos. On such websites, you can play casino games of various kinds, and many allow transactions with Bitcoin. It means that you can deposit and withdraw with it. Generally, other cryptocurrencies are available, too.

This is important, as there are yet few entertainment outlets that have fully embraced cryptocurrencies as a valid payment method. It validates these digital assets and likely helps pave the way for more options.

Even though Bitcoin is primarily used as a financial-related network, the principles it pioneered were used for other, more intriguing purposes.

For example, other networks, such as Ethereum, offer the ability to develop decentralised apps. It means that instead of operating from a central server or computer, the app operates in a network.

This is a significant development. Imagine there’s a decentralised news app covering a government scandal. Since all participants have the information, it would be impossible to censor. This is why Bitcoin and its peers are more than assets for speculating their values.

Closing Thoughts

Bitcoin is much more than digital gold and a payment method for online casinos. How much more – we don’t know yet.

Bitcoin is much more than digital gold and a payment method for online casinos. It’s a proof of concept on how society could dispense with current monetary control and all the ramifications that might happen, good and bad.

Furthermore, it shows how disruptive technology can impact society and shake its foundations. Whether we’ll live in a centralised or decentralised world remains to be seen, but the discussion wouldn’t exist without Bitcoin.

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Interim city manager will know where the bodies are buried as he renews relationships with staff members who have come on board since left the city in 2008

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2018



A follow up on Tim Commisso, the Interim City Manager who will show up for work on January 7th.

Tim Commisso 3 stern

Tim Commisso will start the task of running the city and getting up to speed on what each department is doing. Budget and readying things for the new approach to the Official plan that is now back in Burlington. Getting things moving on the Mobility hub issues and helping council work out the kinds on the downtown mobility hub.

In checking around on who knows what about the man a number of people had comments; they all asked that we not give their names. “I didn’t like him when he was here last time and I don’t expect to like him all that much when he arrives in January – but I will have to work with him.” was one comment from someone who has been around city hall for some time.

Another senior municipal type told the Gazette that the decision made by Mayor Meed Ward to put an experienced city manager in place who was not on staff, was good,  he added that he had heard the appointment could run for as long as nine months – and pointed out that is one quarter of the mandate. “Probably too long.”

He added that “there are between 10 and 12 city manager jobs open in the province. Hamilton is looking for a new administrative chief. Burlington wants to get their requirement out there as soon as they can.

Sailor over Pier 2018

Tim Commisso was in on the early thinking and planning for the Pier. He wasn’t around when the troubles took place.

Commisso was also part of the Burlington staff team that was in on the decision to build a pier at the foot of Brant Street.  The first version of the Pier – the one that got torn apart when the city found that there were major problems with the steel that was being used, didn’t happen when Commisso was on the city payroll.

“This council deserves credit” one source said “for bringing in an experienced manager and giving themselves the time they need to get it right when they hire the next full time city manager.”

Commisso began his municipal career in Thunder Bay in the 1980s; it was his home town.

He came to Burlington in 1988 and held a number of senior positions including manager of budgets, deputy treasurer and director of parks and recreation. He had lead responsibility for a number of major projects including the waterfront renewal as well as downtown revitalization strategies and corporate strategic plans.

He returned to Thunder Bay in 2008.

Thunder Bay has been in the news recently when the province disbanded the Police Services Board after two reports were released stating that the racism towards the Indigenous community was unacceptable and new people had to be put in place to bring about change.

Tim Commisso 2 smile

Tim Commisso will have to give moral at city hall a major boost and then get on with the business of keeping things on track while council goes looking for a new city manager.

Commisso was a Senior Advisor at MNP, a national accounting, tax and consulting firm before he re-joined the city for a second time.

MNP, LLP acquired Wade Group, a local accounting firm in 2013.

The MNP offices in Burlington were closed for the day and we were not able to learn if they have done any work for the city.

The Wade Group Professional Services, a Burlington-based accounting and consulting firm, merged with MNP LLP, one of Canada’s largest national accounting and business consulting firms, effective September 1, 2013.

Related news story:

Wade group acquired by national account firm.


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Lights on the pier dedicated to your group; included in the $14 million price tag.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 5th, 2018



Here is more of what we got for that $14 million spent to build The Pier – bright lights – different colours from the tower that serves no purpose.

People on pier between treesThat tower was supposed to have a small wind turbine that the city decided they didn’t want – the turbine was supposed to provide the power for all the lights on the pier.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said today in her Newsletter: “You may have noticed the changing colours on the Brant Street Pier. It is lit each evening with colours that represent local activities, seasonal events and non-profit promotion.

To request a pier lighting or for more information, contact Please book any request four months prior to your event date and consult the schedule for available dates.

The chart below indicates the meaning of upcoming colours by date.
Pier lit up


March 1 – 7 Multiple Shows Spring Colours 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 8 Orange World Kidney Day 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 9 – 16 Multiple shows Spring Colours 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 17 Green St. Patrick’s Day 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 18 – 24 Multiple shows Spring Colours 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 25 Green: Lights go out at 8:30 p.m., back on at 9:30 p.m. Earth Hour 6:30 p.m. – midnight
March 26 – 31 Multiple shows Spring Colours 6:30 p.m. – midnight

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Plan B - a citizens group wants major input into the design of the Waterfront Hotel re-development. They don't want to see the waterfront getting treated the way they think Brant Street has been treated.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 15, 2017



Well – we now know that there are going to be high rise – 23 floors plus – in the downtown core. That got decided at a defining city council meeting on Monday evening.

Ten years from now the city will look a lot different.

There is one development issue that could be even more critical to the development of the city, the look and feel of the downtown core.

Site aerial

The Waterfront Hotel as we know it today is on the left – the red patch of excavation on the right is where the Bridgewater is being built.

The city planners are currently working their way through a study of the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel property.

When the owner of the Waterfront hotel, Darko Vranich let the city know that he wanted to increase the density  and add some height to the land there was an agreement struck that the city would hire people to come up with some design ideas. Three teams of designer/thinkers were to be assembled; two would work with the city – a third would work with the developer. And the developer would pay for all three studies.

A group of citizens have decided they are going to insert themselves into the process in a significant way. Several of the group live in the Lakeshore condos and they don’t want to see their part of the city go to the dogs.

No petitions from these people. They are hard core and they have done their homework and are putting ideas on the table.

The starting point.

Waterfront site

The site that is being re-developed is shown in dark blue – with a rendering of what the Bridgewater development will look like relative to the Waterfront Hotel.

The city has taken the public through an intensive community engagement process – all the meetings took place in the downtown area – what the people in Headon, the Orchard, Palmer and Alton think about what happens to the Waterfront Hotel property isn’t being recorded.

After a number of sessions where ideas were set out as sketched and then produced as rough models and made public.

The process started with three possible designs put forward: Two came from the city planning department and a third from the developer.

The Plan B people were not impressed – they came out with an idea of their own while the city produced what they called an “emerging concept”.

Let’s see what these all look like.

The early design concepts:

Concept 1

This is the first concept that came out of the Planning department. It shifts the focal point of the site from Brant Street to John Street.


Concept 2

This is the second concept that came out of the Planning department. It keeps Brant Street as the main road into the property but moves the towers to the eastern side of the property. Twenty and 30 floors was a surprise.


Concept 3

This is the design that was submitted by the property owner. It uses John Street as the entrance to the eastern end of Spencer Smith Park. The massing is to the east and west of the property. The suggestion that 40 storeys was acceptable has made many people gulp.

What the Planning department made of the three concepts.

City preferred

The Planning department took the three concepts and what they liked from all the designs that came out of the community workshops and have given the public what is being called Planning Department’s Emerging Preferred Concept. The concept doesn’t suggest any building heights. The concept does make both Brant and John Street entrances. to the Park.

Not so fast say the Plan B people – more public space please and lower your sights on the height while you are at it.

Plan B rendering

The Plan B people saw it all quite a bit differently. They wanted far more space at the foot of Brant street and have the Pier show cased .

All this goes to a city meeting on November 28th.

There is an opportunity to do something spectacular – but it is going to take a city council that decides not to make the mistake made in 1995 when what is now the Bridgewater development decision was made.

What is interesting is the way many of the Waterfront Hotel re-development designs snuggle up to what is going to be the Marriott Hotel and the seven story condo at the foot of Elizabeth Street.

There are a lot of people who want to keep the quiet quaint feel of the downtown core.  There isn’t going to be anything quaint about the waterfront five to six years from now.  It could end up being very smart looking, swift, hip and cool.  But getting to that point will be a painful process.

Related new stories:

Part 1 of a multi part series.

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Is Burlington in Line for a Second Pier?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 1st, 2016


The question no one seems to be asking is whether Burlington really needs another waterfront pier. Sources distant from both the PM’s people and those of the Premier have indicated some kind of an announcement is forthcoming in the near future.

Done - all the concrete is down - and the steel beams are holding it all in place. Now the railings get put in place.

Upon completion of pier number two will reach well into the lake

The potential cost of this project could total close to four billion big ones and would be funded through a new infrastructure fund. “What better way to use our federal and provincial deficit money than to create new jobs, right here in Burlington,” one source was overheard mumbling.

The mayor has been very closed-lipped about this initiative. That may be because a former Burlington mayor had been thought to be working hard between the sheets to create this baby. And some baby it will be. A mega-motel, to be named after former city and regional counsellor Robert Bates, will anchor the attractions on this artificial piece of land reaching out into the middle of Lake Ontario.

ferris wheel

The ferris wheel on pier number 2 will be visible from Toronto.

The project will also feature the largest ferris wheel in North America named in honour of the former Toronto mayor, whose brother Doug, had been promoting a similar icon to dot the Toronto skyline. Doug Ford, who always wanted to be known for, and as, a big wheel himself, couldn’t be reached for comment.

However, somebody on somebody’s staff noted that the Fords had always supported using somebody else’s money to move people around, so long as it didn’t get in the way of Toronto’s grid lock. In fact the former Toronto Councillor had hoped that the ferris-wheel could be directly connected to Toronto’s expanding subway system.

Stretching out two and a half kilometres into Lake Ontario the centrepiece of the structure will be a huge ferry docking station with access to planned ferry ports as distant as Oakville and Hamilton and the existing Burlington pier. There will be a 30-hectare amusement park on the water, which will include the ferris wheel and thirty-seven Tim Horton outlets. In addition plans may include a waterfront zoo featuring elephants, lions, penguins and other native Canadian wildlife.

Already, ribbon cutting is being projected to coincide with the 2018 Sound of Music festival which would see a switch in content to such classical pieces as Handel’s Water Music, rather than the heavy rock known to incite wave action. However, given the size of this project, the grand opening may have to be postponed once or twice – or several times.


Land fill at the Burlington air park being trucked to the pier number two construction site.

Land-fill for this massive project is expected to come from the levelling of Halton Conservation Area’s Rattle Snake Point. Rock climbing activity has severely eroded the rock face and Milton has been reported petitioning the provincial government and Green Belt commission to make way for even more residential housing in Canada’s fastest growing city. And besides the rattle snakes are all gone, the last one seen on March 17th.

Lawyers from around the problem are looking for a way to legally move the land fill on the air park property to the lakefront.

Not everyone will be pleased with this new development and you can be sure that the Burlington Gazette will be sued and have to shut down at least five or six times in the course of this project.

But the proponents are keen to see the pier built and even keener to give its ferris wheel a spin. They have been heard to say that they personally anticipate this to be a very rewarding venture.

Rumours abound about the siting of multi-unit condos as well, adding as many as fifty thousand new residents to the man-made peninsula.

And as is always the case with innovative ventures, even at this early stage, there are the critics.

Pier - from under beams now removed.

Steel for pier number two was imported from Mexico – the city took this retaliatory action when Hamilton refused to sell the Lasalle Park water lots at a reasonable price.

Some folks can’t help but compare this initiative to what they saw as wasteful spending by the federal Conservatives in the wake of the 2009/10 recession and in preparation for the G20 summit. They cite the expensive network of sidewalks Tony Clement built in his rural northern riding which no one actually uses. And then there is the massive effort that went into constructing Canada’s sixth great lake – right there on the shores of Lake Ontario.

In the words of Burlington Gazette publisher, Pepper Parr, who is believed to be a strong proponent himself, despite his denials, “they pissed away all that money back then and got re-elected, so why not this, now? Besides how better to employ all our adopted Syrian refugees looking for work, and where better to offer them a place to live?”

Getting it - yellowRumours abound that the Gazette has been approached about locating its new international headquarters adjacent to the Bate’s motel complex. When asked to confirm that story, Parr responded that he couldn’t confirm or deny his involvement. “It would be like stabbing the mayor in the back,” he was heard to mutter before turning his head away to suppress a giggle.

Rivers reading a newspaper Jan 3-15

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Something special happens to Rivers on the first day of April each year.

Our apologies for his excesses.

Tweet @rayzrivers


Existing Pier

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What happened the last three months of last year? Some pretty good stuff actually - and one more small pier story.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 31, 2015


The last quarter of the year – what mattered most?

There was some movement, finally, on the Strategic Plan; the school board finds itself taking a very hard look at the level French will be taught; intensification is getting good discussion. Many think we have already reached the intensification level the province will expect us to grow to  in terms of population increase the subject got a lot of public discussion.

Showtime AGB - poor lighting

Walt Rickli’s sculpture – Showtime at the AGB.

Rickli sculpture unveiled at the Art Gallery – donated by Dan Lawrie.

Active transportation: Never heard of it ? You will – a Burlington school board has some ideas she wants to see become policy.

Bylaw prohibits feeding of wild animals – including coyotes – does not go into effect for one year. City wants to educate people particularly around Fairchild Park.

Summer school enrollment increases in public secondary schools – grew by 15%

Tom Muir wants to know why the city missed a 180 day deadline on a major project opposed by almost everyone.

Geraldos at LaSalle Park and Spencers on the Waterfront asking for lease renewals – one of them wants to lock in parking spaces for 15 years.

Parking to get a serious review: what do we have – what do we need? Consultants being hired.

Mary Lou Tanner

Mary Lou Tanner – city’s new Director o Planning.

City snags a planner from the Niagara Region: Mary Lou Tanner to head up Planning for the city.

Council finds the city manager’s Work Plan a little on the ambitious side and lacking prioritization.

The province wants to put more money into off road bike paths where would Burlingtonians like to see those paths built?

Public meeting to learn what the board thinks it should do with the French and English programs at the elementary levels.

Planning department creates drawings to show what parts of the city could look like with intensification in specific locations.

Public hears what the HDSB thinks could be done to manage the trend to increased interest in French immersion.

Grade 9 math test scores for Burlington public high schools release: Robinson and Pearson don’t rank all that well. Why?

First glimpse of the draft Strategic Plan for the balance of this term of office – some rash deliverable dates were put on the table.

Burlington is now represented by three women in Ottawa: Gould, Damoff and Raitt

Public school board posts policy documents on its web site – not that easy to find – Gazette provides instructions.

Henrys pier #1

A smaller pier.

The pier – a footnote.

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Festival of Lights makes the trip to Spencer Smith Park well worth the effort

News 100 redBy Staff

November 26th, 2015


It is a little difficult to get a sense of a holiday season with the weather as warm as it is – but the volunteers who put the lights up on the waterfront have made a valiant effort.

Season red coats guarding the shore

Are these “Red Coats” defending the city from the Americans during the war of 1812? There was a naval battle fought on Lake Ontario that decided the fate of this country. Great time for parents to pass along some history to their children as they take in the Festival of Lights

When evening has set in – take time to walk down to Spencer Smith Park and take in the lights that have been set up – it really is something to see, enjoy and appreciate.

Season - Naval promenade

A stroll along the Naval promenade while the weather is unseasonable warm is a chance to take in the many lights that bring a smile to the face of almost everyone.

Season - Mr Ho Ho Ho

The Ho Ho Ho man himself stands at the entry to Spencer Smith Park.

Season - lights with pier tower

A collection of lights along the pathway to the pier and a red glow from the pier tower begin any tour of the Festival of Lights in Spencer Smith Park.

Season - lights from pier

The Burlington shoreline from the pier.

The Festival of Lights has gone though some difficult days with their funding – but the work gets done and everyone can enjoy the work the new designs.

Best place to get a full sense is to be out on the pier and then to walk along the Naval promenade and see the individual pieces of work.

The tower on the pier changes colours – it was supposed to have a turbine at the top that would have generated the electricity for the pier – and perhaps all the seasonal fixtures – that didn’t happen – but we do have the pier – $14 million plus to put it in place.

Brant Street hasn’t seen much – if any – decoration. The Burlington Downtown Business association has a competition going on among its members – for some reason that association’s members just don’t seem to rise to the challenge of giving the street a festive feel. Right now their efforts seem to be on a sales drive tied into the Yellow Pages. Look for Yellow Bags – the retailer will tell you what the effort is all about.

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Fire department checking out pier problems in the electrical room. Is the pier still under warranty?

The Pier 100By Staff

December 6, 2014



An observant citizen wrote to say: “For the second time in the past few weeks Burlington Fire is attending to a problem in the electrical/control (?) room under the pier. They’ve been there for over an hour so far tonight.

Sure hope it’s under warranty!

The public gets some value from their $15 million pier (true cost is going to be $20 million) as they watch Tall Ships prepare to sail into Burlington Bay.

The public gets some value from their $20 million pier as they watch Tall Ships prepare to sail into Burlington Bay.

From the people that worked on version one of the pier: “I believe it’s a tail light policy. You have warranty until you can’t see Grahams tail lights.”

Graham was the company that completed the pier.

Are we looking at a lemon here?

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Pier contractor tells his side of the story with grace and dignity; believes the problems could have and should have been avoided.

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 26, 2014


Henry Schilthuis got his turn to tell the public what the Brant Street Pier settlement was all about.  His picture was a little different than that of the Mayor and interim city manager Pat Moyle, who was acting as a spokesperson for the city.

“Quite frankly” said Schilthuis, in a prepared statement “ we believe this process could have and should have been avoided. We did what we had to do to protect our company, and feel vindicated in all we have done to achieve the settlement. We wish the people of Burlington much enjoyment of their waterfront.”

S  Henry at his desk

Henry Schilthuis works from a nondescript office in Ancaster continuing the hard work, honest delivery approach of the 60 year old family firm.

There were numerous occasions, when the dispute could have been settled.  Former Mayor Jackson never liked the pier – it was a former Mayor Rob MacIsaac initiative, and anything that had MacIsaac’s finger prints on it, was not something Jackson could digest.  He advised newly installed Mayor Goldring to tear the thing down in 2010

The settlement is complex, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the winner was in all this.

The city sued HSS for $10 million – they didn’t see a dime of that money – despite the Mayor assuring the public on several occasions that the city was going to get back every penny.   There were a number of council members, who were adamant throughout the past three years, that the city had a strong case and would prevail.

Councillors Craven, Taylor and Dennison who were at the table, when the pier idea was first proposed, didn’t say all that much in public during the 2011 and 2012 council meetings.  There were a number, far too many, closed sessions during which council and its legal advisers had long conversations behind closed doors.

Pier girder work all 3 in picture

It was a much more professional team on the city side, when the second attempt to build the pier started. Nothing was left to chance and the hard questions were asked every step of the way. Here city manager Scott Stewart and Craig Stevens  meet with the steel beam fabricators to ensure that the job gets done right.

When the Post made a Freedom of Information request the city objected, but quickly saw the stupidity behind that move and relented – letting the public know, that they had spent $1.3 million on legal fees to date.

The city recovered $1.5 million and is going to be allowed to keep $500,000 in hold back funds it has.  This is all the city will see from the three law suits it filed.  They sought $10 million from AECOM their project managers; they sought $10 million from HSS and they sought $3.5 million from Zurich Insurance, the HSS bonding company.

The pool of funds set up to make payments, appears to have gone to just the city and HSS.  The total amount the city will see is $2 million, while HSS will see $2.4 million, which is made up of the $1.75 million cash payment and a total of $650,000 that will be paid to HSS by other parties.

Besides the $1.75 million it will be paid, HSS will be given an additional $650,000 – for a total net benefit of $2.4 million for HSS.

“I am proud” said Schilthuis, “ of this entrepreneurial and family owned company. Our concerns about the challenges facing the pier guided us in our actions. We maintained our position with dignity and grace – simply because it was the right thing to do. The result of this settlement is proof of this.” 

“I want to thank all of our staff and our community. You stuck with us the entire time despite the stress and burden of this onerous ordeal. We have remained true to our values as a 60 year old company and that makes it all worth it.”

A proud man who stuck to his principles and did what he believed to be right and feels the settlement supports his decision to walk off a project, that could not be built with the plans he was given.

The current city council might look to the way Schilthuis handled himself, throughout what he called a “long and arduous ordeal”.  City staff had no problem working with Henry Schilthuis – it was the politicians that made a mess of this one.  Hopefully council members will reflect on how this worked out and be honest with themselves – this was not their finest hour.

Pier Dec 23-2011

The pier in December 2011 stripped of all the steel Schilthuis installed – with nothing but the caissons in place. The trestle to the right of the pier was used for construction equipment to lay down the new beams.

During the summer when people talk about how they want to vote come October – they might be persistent and consistent in asking the incumbents, what went wrong.

The $6 million plus that was spent would have done a lot for our transit system and road maintenance work, that we are so far behind on.  Hold their feet to the flames.



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Contractor gets more out of the settlement deal than the city. Was any of this legal wrangling really necessary?

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 24, 2014


The full story on the Brant Street Pier settlement is going to come out in bits and pieces.  Yesterday the city of Burlington got its story out.  The announced that they were awarded $1.5 million from a pool of funds and got to keep an additional $500,000 they had on hand as a hold back from a company; they weren’t prepared to say who the hold-back belonged to.

Bare bones Pier from high with trestle

It was a unique design, it was going to put the city on the map – all it did was keep everyone in a room with their lawyers.

With those numbers on the table, the city declared victory and said it was time to move on. “The city has $500 million in capital projects going on and from time to time some of those projects don’t work out” said the Mayor.   The pier was one of those projects that didn’t work out and the public is apparently going to be expected to suck it up and accept the fact that the pier has cost twice the original price.

Later this week Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., (HSS) will tell its side of the story in a press release.

The Gazette can tell you now that HSS will be given $1.75 million cash from the pool of funds that was created plus an additional $650,000 which will be funds other parties have to pay them.

In an early version of this article there was a typo showing the amount as $65,000.  The correct amount is $650,000

This settlement is not yet final; two of the nine parties had to get approval from their boards.  While these two parties were not named – it seems pretty clear that they are the ones who have had to contribute the bulks of the funds to the pool.

That pool will pay out $1.5 million to the city of Burlington and $1.75 million to HSS which brings the pool total to $3.25 million – so far

Henry Schilthuis, president of HSS said he is “satisfied with the settlements.  The city of Burlington sued HSS and AECOM for a total of $10 million each and sued Zurich Insurance for $3.5 million – they didn’t get any of that money – all they got was a sum to cover their legal fees.”  Schilthuis never felt the city had a case – but  it took more than four years of grinding legal work to make that point.

There was a point at which Schilthuis  wasn’t sure he could keep the company alive.  Tens of thousands was owed to his sub contractors but they stood by the firm and agreed to wait.  The wait has proven worthwhile

It is a real stretch for the city to claim that it “won”.  One has to wonder just how gullible this council thinks its voters are.

HSS was given more than enough to cover their legal fees and the additional engineering costs that were incurred when they tried to come up with a solution to the engineering problems.

The amounts they will get allows them to pay the sub-contractors who stood by the company while the city was hammering HSS financially.

During the city’s media briefing on Monday, much was made of the “shuttle diplomacy” that former city manager Jeff Fielding used to try and broker a deal.

Before the examinations for discovery took place Fielding got approval from the Mayor to broker a deal said Schilthuis and “we arrived at a figure we could live with” said Schilthuis.  But when fielding took it back to Council – council turned it down.

Fielding made another attempt at brokering a deal – but HSS didn’t like the look of the numbers the second time around.  They had a better picture as to who did what when as a result of the examinations for discovery and took a pass on the offering Fielding made.

The final settlement documents will get prepared and signed, cheques will get sent out and bills paid and everyone will move on.

At some point the city and Schilthuis  will have to figure out what they want to do with the steel, beams that were taken out of the pier, that is now sitting in the HSS work yard in Ancaster.  Schilthuis sold the property and is moving to a new location in Caledonia and the steel will have to be removed


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City didn’t get what it went to court to get – but the award they did get wasn’t that shabby. However, we did pay for the pier twice.

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 23, 2014


In the world of politics what matters most is the spin that can be put on news that is not all that good.  And in the world of politics there is a lot of news that is not that good.

Pier Aug 28, 2012 - beams going in.

Steel beams are swung into place during the second round of pier construction.

The city of Burlington held a media briefing this morning in which they announced that they had settled their disputes with the people they were suing over the delays in the construction of the Brant Street Pier.  They made it sound like a victory.

Interim city manager Pat Moyle explained that a pool of funds had been created and that the city was given $1.5 million from that pool of funds to cover their legal costs.

The mediated settlement, which has yet to be ratified, also said the city did not have to return $500,000 in a holdback they had on hand.

What the public has yet to learn is:

Who put money into the pool of funds?  The city said they didn’t put in any money.

Who were they holding back money from?  The city wouldn’t say.

All we got was an explanation as to what the city got – not a word about what they didn’t get which was the several million they had sued HSS for when they walked off the job when the determined the pier could not be built with the plans they were given.

After issuing the writs the city was given an alternative proposal from Zurich Insurance to complete the building of the pier for an increased amount.  The exact amount the insurance company wanted to complete the job was never very clear.

The idea of creating a pool of funds into which different companies would contribute and then see them distributed to the damaged parties is both creative and unique.  Of interest to the citizens of Burlington who have had to pay more than $6 million to Graham Infrastructure to strip away steel and put in new steel and pour new cents to complete the deck of the pier which opened officially just over a year ago.

The city is positioning this as a win – and to some degree it is.  They could have gotten whacked by the original contractor for the losses he experienced.

What the public does not know yet is who had to put money into the pool of funds and how much did the different parties put in.

And then – who was that money distributed to?

Let’s look at the parties to the dispute:  There were nine of them.

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited sued the  City of Burlington

City of Burlington sued Zurich Insurance Company (Bonding Company for HSS)

City of Burlington who sued HSS, EFCO, Aecom, Lombard, PV &V, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

City of Burlington sued Aecom

HSS sued Lombard, PV &V, City, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

Out of this crowd who is likely to have gotten money from the pool of funds that was created?  We know that the city got $1.5 million to cover their legal costs.

While there has not been a public statement sources indicate that Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited did not contribute to the pool of funds and an unauthorized spokesperson said “Henry was happy”  Henry Schilthuis is the president of HSS.

Pier Structural steel at node Jan 16-13

Re bar in place ready for the concrete pour around the node that is now the observation platform. City skyline in the background

That leaves a bunch of insurance companies and AECOM.

We expect to know in the near future what Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited was paid out of the pool of funds.

City Council was given a full briefing and “approved a settlement related to the Brant Street Pier that totals $2 million for the City of Burlington and more than pays for the city’s legal costs.”  That’s a pretty positive spin. No mention of the millions they sued HSS for because he quit the job he felt couldn’t be built with the plans he was given.

The plans came from Totten Sims Hubicki, (TSH) the architects of the pier who were bought out by AECOM.

“The job of the mediator was to try and facilitate a settlement between the parties, whom I believe all came to table with a willingness to resolve their differences,” said Interim City Manager Pat Moyle. 

“The settlement” explained Moyle “is still subject to the final approval of two of the parties’ boards, which the city expects will take place within 10 days from the date of settlement and execution of final releases. There is also a confidentiality agreement related to some of the terms.”

That gag order may prevent the public from ever knowing how much money went into the pool – not that knowing would make all that much difference.  What we now know for certain is that the city didn’t recover a dime of the cost for the second contractor.

Pier sign - hell frezes over

Did the city’s reputation take a hit during the pier construction fiasco? We made headlines that was certain. Now we have a pier – it is heavily used and was it worth the price?

Another condition that was released was this statement: “No contribution in any form to the settlement shall be deemed an admission of liability, and any such liability is denied.”

What the city has also not released is the amount they paid Morrison Hershfield for the quality assurance work and the amount paid the second project manager METTKO for the work they did to ensure they work was properly done the second time around.

The total cost of the Brant Street Pier construction is $14.4 million. (it is actually quite a bit higher than that). The Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program funded $4.4 million of this amount while Halton Region provided $2.5 million.

Does the settlement remove the pier as an election issue?  Let’s see what unfolds in the next few days.

When asked what went wrong with the project Mayor Goldring said “there are some projects that just don’t work out”.

City staff on the legal and financial side did a very good job.  Treasurer Joan Ford took part in the negotiations; if there is anyone who know what the numbers were – it was Ms Ford.

Former city manager Jeff Fielding was thanked for the “shuttle diplomacy” he did trying to get a deal from HSS.  That didn’t work.

Getting your legal fees paid and then told to go home isn’t much of a victory – not after turning down an opportunity in 2011 to have the pier built for a lot less than the $6million plus we had to pay Graham Infrastructure and then turning down an opportunity in 2013 to settle.

Pier - rebar being putr down Oct 9-12

A lot of steel, a lot of concrete – did the public get value for the money that was spent. And are there lessons to be learned – and will anyone be held accountable?

What appears to be clear – though not certain yet,  is that there was a problem with the design which moves the liability to AECOM and the TSH firm they purchased.

When some of the other parties make public statements the picture will become clearer.  The city did the right thing strategically and politically by putting out  a statement and putting the needed spin on their story.

The fact is – we paid for the pier twice.


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PIER saga: City didn’t get the deal they wanted but they did get their legal fees paid.

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 23, 2104



The quickie version of the city’s media briefing on the legal settlement related to the costs of building the Brant Street Pier is that the city say they will not have to pay as much as a dine.


Mayor takes the position that the pier is now bought and paid for. No more special meetings of council, no more legal fees. The end of a project that has plagued the city since the day the crane toppled.

They in fact did quite a bit better – they are going to pocket $1.5 million and hang on to $500,000 that was in a “holdback” account.

What the city did not get was as much as a dime of the $6,429,700 it paid Graham Infrastructure to complete the construction of the pier.

Many on council thought the original contractor should have paid the city for walking off the job when he claimed he could not build the pier with the plans he was given.

That position appears to have been validated – but there are still a lot of details that have yet to be made known – there are some we will probably never know.

The deal is still provisional in that there are two of the nine parties that have to get approval from their boards of directors.

The pier problems have always been complex.  From the concept during the Rob MacIsaac era to the Goldring era the project has gone through far too many ups and downs and the full story has not been told and it looks as if there are parts that the public will never get to hear.

The city always took the position that it did nothing wrong and that would seem to be borne out by the details we have to date on the settlement.

The headline we used on a story published yesterday –  Final phase of the Brant Street Pier saga about to unfold – it will be painful.  The city chose to focus on the getting funds to pay legal fees – not a word about the $6 million it had to pay a different contractor to complete the pier

We will follow up with a more detailed story.

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Final phase of the Brant Street Pier saga about to unfold – it will be painfull.

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 23, 2014


City hall has taken to using the old journalism approach: the 5 w’s – Who, what, when, where why to what they tell the public.


How these seven men and woman “square the circle” and tell the public what it is going to take to finally settle the legal problems related to the construction of the Brant Street pier. Ballooning from more than $7 million to something considerably beyond $14 million can never be justified – but it is something they are going to have to live with.

About time.  We learned Friday that there was going to be a Special Council meeting at which they would immediately go into a closed session so the city’s solicitor could brief them on what had taken place during three days of mediation.

The city lawyers have always been cautious with information.  For years they told the public they could not release any data on how much they had paid the lawyers representing the city.  Few understood how that could do any harm but the lawyers held to that position until the Post filed a Freedom of Information requesting asking just how much had been spent on lawyers.  The city resisted for a bit but then came to the conclusion that they were going to have to say what the number was – more than $1.3 million.

At this point one would be really hard pressed to see any damage done to the city’s legal position with that number public.

Late Sunday evening the city advised media that there would be a briefing at noon on Monday during which interim city manager Pat Moyle would speak.  The purpose of the briefing:  “To provide openness and transparency regarding Brant Street Pier legal matters.”

While mediation is a closed process to allow everyone to put their position before everyone else with a mediator looking for a way to pull together an agreement everyone can live with and avoid a lengthy, costly trial, we can tell you this:

There is a deal – but it has yet to be ratified.  Mediation went on very long on the first day – well into the evening without much headway.  Sometime on Thursday there was a breakthrough and the mediator was able to send everyone back to the offices with instructions to make the deal real by getting the approvals needed.

It was close to impossible to get anyone to say anything during the weekend.  Phone calls weren’t returned, “can’t say anything now but give me a call Tuesday” was the response most of the time.


Was it a good idea?  With at least two city council candidates that we know of having never walked on the pier it is difficult to see what it was that moved former Mayor Rob MacIsaac to push so hard for the structure.

There is a deal but no one is going to be completely happy and it looks as if the city is going to have to bite an expensive bullet.  It will be interesting to hear how those council members with rock hard positions a year ago back down and explain themselves.

There were opportunities at several points to settle with the contractor but this council said no. In the next few days this same council is going to have to say yes.

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Expect a collective gulp at special city council meeting Monday when they learn results of court ordered mediation on the pier?

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 21, 2014


It started on Wednesday – It was to be the first day of a three day mediation marathon that on occasion started at 7:00 am and went on into the early evening.

When a crane on the pier site toppled and revealed serious imperfections with the steel being used every one of the cross beans had to be stripped leaving just the steel that formed the lazy S curve that was to make the pier distinct. The only distinct thing about the pier is its costs and the bad taste it has left in the mouths f the people who have to pay the bill.

Pier - from under beams now removed.

When a crane on the pier site toppled and revealed serious imperfections with the steel being used everyone of the corss beans had to be stripped leaving just the steel that formed the lazy S curve that was to make the pier distinct. The only distinct thing about the pier is its costs and the bad taste it has left in the mouths f the people who have to pay the bill.

There were between 20and 30 people in the room at times arguing over who owes what to who on the pier construction problems.  But for a time all the horses were not in the starting gate and there appeared to be some confusion as to whether or not one of the key players – AECOM – was going to show up and take part in what was scheduled as a three day event to attempt to settle the several million dollar difference of opinion on who owed who what.

While Burlingtonians and the people who visit the city do enjoy the pier – it isn’t fully paid for yet.  What was put to the public as a close to $7 million project ballooned to more than $14 million and could go considerable higher when the court cases get worked out.

The city has been in litigation with  Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited (HSS), the original contractor,  Zurich Insurance Company (Bonding Company for HSS),  Aecom, Lombard, PV &V, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

The mediation ended on Friday.  There has not been an announcement as to whether or not the parties were able to come to an agreement.

How will this city council react to whatever news the city solicitor is going to give them Monday on the outcome of the court ordered mediation over the law suits on the costs of the pier? And will council be open, honest and up front with their constituents and tell them the truth, the whole and nothing but the truth. The seven of them will be asking you to re-elect them in October.


How will this city council react to whatever news the city solicitor is going to give them Monday on the outcome of the court ordered mediation over the law suits on the costs of the pier? And will council be open, honest and up front with their constituents and tell them the truth, the whole and and nothing bt the truth. The seven of them will be asking you to re-elect them in October..

What we do know is that a Special meeting of city council has been called for Monday, June 23rd at 10:30 an when the city’s solicitor will speak to council in a closed session on the Brant Street Pier litigation.

So – something has happened and council is to get a briefing.

here are two possible directions: Mediation was successful and the city has settled with the other parties or mediation failed and the case will then go to trial.

Mediation is a way to keep differences out of a court room.  People involved in legal disputes –  and in the pier situation there are five law suits –  are required to at least attempt to mediate that dispute. It is useful to look at who is suing who:

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited (HSS) vs. City of Burlington

City of Burlington vs. Zurich Insurance Company (Bonding Company for HSS)

City of Burlington vs. HSS, EFCO, Aecom, Lombard, PV &V, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

City of Burlington vs. Aecom

HSS vs. Lombard, PV &V, City, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

What is instructive here is that HSS, the original contractor, is suing their insurance company and their insurance broker.  You sue when you believe the service you bought was not delivered.  HSS is also suing the city of Burlington – they believed they delivered and that the city has not paid for what was delivered.

The city is suing Zurich insurance – this is the company that provided the performance bond for the construction company – HSS.  Early in this term of council the insurance company, Zurich, offered the city an alternative construction solution which the city turned down.

If mediation was successful and the parties came to an agreement council may be asked to approve the settlement.  Frequently in such settlements one of the conditions is a “confidentiality agreement” often referred to as a gag order.  No one is allowed to say anything other than that a settlement was reached.

The city sent more than $1 million on legal fees and didn’t want the public to know until the Post filed a Freedom of Information request which the city at first decided to argue against but saw the error of that idea and held a press conference in January  at which they had then city manager Jeff Fielding tell the public that  $1,349,952 $1. had been spent to date on just the legal fees.  The city would get a rebate on the tax portion of that bill – but a million dollars is still a million dollars.

While no one on city council will admit it today – there was more than one occasion when the city had an opportunity to settle the dispute for a lot less than it is going to cost.  Exactly how much the cost will amount to may be known on Monday – in a perfect world council would have the courage of their convictions to tell the public just what that costs is – but we should not hold our breath.

While the pier problems didn’t originate with this council – all that started when Rob MacIsaac became Mayor and wanted a grand legacy project that would put Burlington on the map.  And it certainly did that.  Things began to go wrong when a crane that was doing work on the pier toppled over.

The contractor at the time HSS and the insurance underwriters took a closer look at the steel that was being used – and there were problems with the product.  At first a few beams were to be taken out and then a few more and before the public knew the structure had been stripped of much the steel and the original contractor was of the site.

The city re-tendered the project, a new contractor was brought in along with dozens of inspectors who checked every foot of the steel that was being fabricated to ensure that nothing went wrong the second time around.

The pier officially opened last June.


It was a grand day.  The turnout wasn’t terrific but it was a lively crowd with cup cakes for everyone.  some key people were not on hand.  Former Mayors Rob MacIsaac and Cam Jackson took passes – MacIsaac had a convocation.  There was one person who had more reason than anyone else to be out on that Pier that morning – Henry Schilthuis, a proud man who is close to fierce when it comes to defending his reputation and the man who did the original work but had to walk off the site when he realized it could not be built using the original plans.  On Monday city council will learn if Schilthuis  was right and if they are going to be able to settle with Schilthuis or if there is going to be a trial.

A closing note in a story that may not be over yet.  Earlier in the week I had occasion to be having coffee with two people who were both candidates for council in the October municipal election.  It was a fine late Spring day and after coffee the two council wanna be’s decided to take a stroll towards the pier.  Neither had been out on the pier before, which stunned this reporter.

Is the pier an unpopular place?  Is it a $20 million dollar mistake?   While the city uses a figure of $14 million + as the cost of the pier – the mediation is going to move that number very very close to $20 million.

The question the Gazette has is this: Will the public ever be given a full detailed accounting as just what Rob MacIsaac’s dream has cost the city?



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Interim city manager has begun to get a grip on the job – how much bigger is it than he thought?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 8, 2104


 Odd how things sometime work out.

Pat Moyle is driving home in his car, wife with him.  He takes the call.

Burlington’s Mayor Rick Goldring is on the line.

Patrick MoylePat Moyle believes he knows why Goldring is calling.  Burlington needs a city manager – the one we had found that Calgary was more to his liking.  Moyle had recently retired as the Chief Administrative Officer of Halton Region and he knew everyone over there with municipal administrative skills.  Moyle thought Goldring was looking for some names of people that might be available as interim city managers until the municipal election is over and a new council is sworn in.

Goldring wanted a little more than a recommendation –he wanted to be able to put Moyle’s  name on a business card and have him serve as the interim city manager for as much as a year.

Apparently the Mrs. Moyle wasn’t ecstatic about the idea but Pat wasn’t taking to the Florida retirement stuff all that well – he still had harness he had not worn out and wanted to stay in the game.  Pat said he would get back to Goldring but as one listened to Moyle explain the sequence this was a done deal.

 Pat Moyle certainly knew what Burlington was all about – perhaps better than many at the “director level” in the city.  He knew what the long term issues were, he was more than likeable and had worked with the top line people in the past. And he was certainly no slouch during the six years he served as the Regional CAO.  This was going to be a good fit

Then there was that nice little $50,000 plus bonus for the city.  Traditionally the municipal sector hires outside consultants who run an add and collect resumes.  The tab fir that task comes in at around $50,000 each time.

The bonus for Burlington was that Moyle was going to be attending the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, taking place just down the road in Niagara Falls.  Moyle just took a bigger brief case and began to collect resumes – and get a clear sense as to who might find themselves wanting to move up the food chain and enjoy better beef.

Moyle might manage to clean up some of the problems at the city’s General Manager level as well.

That is the easy part of the job Pat Moyle took on as interim city manager.  The rest of June is going to keep him humping.  The Burlington Air Park appeal of Justice John Murray’s decision requiring the air park to comply with city bylaws will be heard next week.  It will take a few months for a decision to work its way into the hands of the public but by the end of the appeal hearing the city will have a sense as to where this might go.  Wise people do not attempt to think through how an appeal court might decide.  The decision could be handed down right smack in the middle of the waning days of the municipal election.

There are some very positive upsides to the appeal court decision for the city.  Once the legal problems are solved the city can get on with the business of getting it right for the rural part of the city.  That may mean different ownership of the air park property.

Less than a week after the Air Park appeal is heard Moyle will have to take part in the mediation of just who owes what for the construction of the pier – which is about to celebrate its first official year of existence.

The median will stretch over several days at the end of which a settlement will have been reached or the case goes to trial.  Going to trial would probably be the better thing for this council.  At this point no one knows what each of the five parties wants from the other.  The numbers get put on the table the first day – which is when jaws we are told will drop.

The financial and emotional damage done to Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., (HSS) has been absorbed – now they want their money and an apology that will make the past four years easier to have had to live with just a little easier.

When Jeff Fielding was managing the financial and legal side of the pier file he frequently used the phrase “everyone is going to have to give a little”.  Fielding had a  way at times of being very persuasive – but Jeff Fielding is no longer on the city payroll and his approach won’t work without him.

Moyle is for the most part on his own with a legal team that no longer has an upper hand.  HSS is very clear on want they want; AECOM, the project managers have always been in this for the long haul.  PV&V , an insurance brokerage may not have to pay a price for siding with someone other than their client. But it is the city that stands to lose the most.

If there is a settlement the public is going to want to know how much the city settled for – and that isn’t a number they will want to put on the table – so the city ensures that a gag order is included in the minutes of settlement.

Pier - rebar being putr down Oct 9-12

Steel re bar being put in place on the pier deck for the second time. First attempt got stripped back to the original beams

But if HSS digs in their heels and demands that they finally get paid and be given the level of apology they feel they deserve – and they are the ones who have been trashed by most members of this city council and gotten by without payment of invoice that were approved for payment for more than three years – then the city has a tough one in front of them.  The days of everyone having to give a little are long gone.

Assuming the pier becomes a campaign issue – and it should – there is an opportunity for every Councillor and the Mayor to reflect on what they could have done differently

Pat Moyle has been with us as interim city manager barely month – he might be a significantly different man by the end of June.  The Senior management team he leads might be quite a bit different before he turns in his keys as well.  We got lucky with Moyle and if the idea to sound him out was Mayor Goldring’s – great, finally, some leadership.


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Pier mediation date set; City meets with legal counsel to determine who will do the talking for the city.

By Pepper Parr

March 31, 2014


We all know about insurance.  We pay those premiums month after month convincing ourselves that we are “covered” and all too often when a catastrophe occurs we learn – the policy doesn’t cover that.  It happens to households and it happens to the world of business as well – and when it happens in the construction industry – it can get messy.

June 17th – 2013 –  It will be seen as a great day in the history of the city.  Despite a horrendous cost and new levels of mismanagement by people who are no longer with the city – the pier was a good idea.

And if there was ever a messy construction project – look no further than The Pier at the foot of Brant Street.  That situation is slowly working its way through the legal system. The next step is mediation – a process that is required before a case can be given a trial date.

Nancy Shea Nicol, the city solicitor has explained that at some point prior to any trial the Court will order that the parties engage in mediation to see if the issues can be resolved.  Mediation does not make a determination of the legal rights of the parties; it is not binding and the mediator cannot impose a resolution on the parties.  Mediation is a process where the people involved look for a way to see if they can agree on a settlement and avoid going to trial. 

Mediation is a way to keep differences out of a court room.  People involved in legal disputes –  and in the pier situation there are five law suits –  are required to at least attempt to mediate that dispute. It is useful to look at who is suing who:

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited (HSS) vs. City of Burlington

City of Burlington vs. Zurich Insurance Company (Bonding Company for HSS)

City of Burlington vs. HSS, EFCO, Aecom, Lombard, PV &V, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

City of Burlington vs. Aecom

HSS vs. Lombard, PV &V, City, Craneway (Insurance Claim)

What is instructive here is that HSS, the original contractor, is suing their insurance company and their insurance broker.  You sue when you believe the service you bought was not delivered.  HSS is also suing the city of Burlington – they believed they delivered  and that the city has not paid for what was delivered.

The city is suing Zurich insurance – they are the company that provided the performance bond the contractor, HSS, was required to put in place.

There was a time when the city didn’t have more than $14 million of taxpayers money sitting at the end of Brant Street. There are those who think it should have been left the way it was.

The city called that performance bond, arguing that the contractor had not completed the job.  The insurance company, Zurich, came back with a proposal to complete the pier – albeit at a higher cost – which the city didn’t like the look of and they declined the offer – pretty quickly it might be added – and went looking for a new contractor which they found, hired and paid.  In June, 2013 the pier was officially opened.

Steel beams that had been installed, found to be flawed were taken out – they sit in the construction yard at HSS

The contract to build the pier was awarded in the summer of 2006.  A new council was elected to office in October of 2006.  Then there was the crane accident: August, 2008, during the first concrete pour, one of the main steel beams supporting the deck twisted. Two weeks later, a crane capsized onto the pier.

Fast forward to December 16, 2009, when HSS notified the city, in writing, that it was unwilling and unable to complete the pier construction contract.  HSS then filed a construction lien against the city and issued a statement of claim in January 2010 – the gloves were off.

The city said at that time that it had a plan of action to complete the pier in a fiscally responsible manner and notified HSS’s bonding company, Zurich Insurance that HSS was in default.  The city’s first recourse is to give the bonding company an opportunity to remedy HSS’s default and to follow the procedures as set out in the performance bond issued by the bonding company in favour of the city.  Cam Jackson was still Mayor of Burlington at this time.

On June 18, 2010 HSS published a full-page advertisement in the Post to tell its story.  The city issued a statement saying the “confidential, without prejudice discussions referred to by HSS,” in the advertisement, “contained significant new costs, which were not acceptable to taxpayers in the opinion of City Council, and additional conditions, which went against the advice of our legal counsel.”

The argument moved to a “he said”, “she said” stage where HSS said the company had not been paid by the city for invoices it had submitted and the city said it had already paid HSS $3.9 million of the total $6.5 million construction contract  amounting to 60 per cent of the original contract.

This Council didn’t create the pier problems – but they did manage to drop the ball on more than one occasion when there were opportunities to limit the financial damage.

October 2010, a new city council gets elected; Cam Jackson is no longer the Mayor but the council still has three members, John Taylor, Jack Dennison and Rick Craven who were on council when the original contract was awarded.

In April 2011, the city received a proposal from Zurich Insurance Inc., the HSS bonding company, to settle the construction of the pier issues. 

On May 11th, City Council, in a closed session was given an update on the proposal.

On May 24 city council decided not to consider the proposal.  The public was never told what the proposal was or the reasons for rejecting it.  We do know that the proposal did require the city to put more money into the construction of the pier but the public was never told how much more.

On September 26 council voted to hire Graham Infrastructure of Mississauga to complete the Brant Street Pier.

Graham Infrastructure’s bid was for a total contract price of $6,429,700, including full HST.  Two optional items—a beach access ramp and additional concrete work for the waterfront promenade in Spencer Smith Park—were recommended for inclusion in the bid, bringing Graham Infrastructure’s contract price to $6,713,330.

The total project cost, including the nearly $5.98 million spent to date, would total $14.44 million.

The city made the most of what will be seen as an historic occasion; the youth of today lay their hands on the pier plaque on opening day.

On June 17th, 2013 the pier at the foot of Brant Street was officially opened.

But that is far from the end of the story.  The pier ended up costing a lot more than anyone expected.  The original contractor, HSS, has bills they sent the city before they left the construction site and which the city had approved for payment.  But once the law suits were issued – everything was frozen.  There were also invoices from the contractor that had been submitted but not yet approved.  Those are still outstanding and the city is doing nothing about payment until the court case is settled.

These invoices, collectively are in excess of $1 million.  HSS had bills to pay the trades that worked for them; they came perilously close to bankruptcy, which they believe many at city hall would have been quite happy to see happen.  HSS has survived partly because the trades they have employed for more than 25 years stood by them and said they would wait for payment.  When the court case is settled  many believe HSS will be found to have been in compliance by  walking off  the job, their invoices will be paid, the tradesmen will get paid with interest that will come from the city of Burlington taxpayers.

The contractor, HSS is suing its insurance company and the broker who sold them the insurance policy.  Lombard is believed to be the insurance carrier and PV&V Insurance, the broker who sold the policy to the contractor.

There is nothing pretentious about the HSS operation. A general contractor with a solid reputation known for doing the extras.Henry S sits ay his desk working the numbers.

Relationships are the foundation on which business people build trust.  Henry Schilthuis, president of HSS, built relationships with his trades people who proved to be strong enough for them to wait for payment for the work they had done.

HSS is reported to have been dealing with PV&V for a considerable length of time and expected their insurance broker to defend their interests with the company carrying the insurance – in this case Lombard.  Lombard apparently doesn’t think they have to pay on the policy claim HSS made.  Messy.

While the contractor, HSS is unhappy with its broker and the insurance carrier – the city is unhappy as well and is going after the HSS the contractor, the contractors insurance company Lombard and the broker who sold the policy to the contractor PV&V and the project manager, AECOM.

This puts PV&V in a very awkward situation.  They’ve got everyone coming after them, which doesn’t do much for credibility.

How does one mediate a mess like that?  They look for a very skilled mediator – and the good ones are very much in demand.  Finding one for this situation has been a challenge but it appears that a date for a mediation hearing has been set – June 19th, even though at least one of the parties is grumbling about the date chosen.   Justice Fitzgerald, the judge handling this file has been pushing everyone on this.

In a document the city released before the mediation date of June 19th was set, the city said 17 days of examination for discovery had taken place which resulted in a considerable number of undertakings being given. An undertaking can be an obligation to find an answer to a question or produce further documents in response to questions.

Some undertakings were not agreed upon and required a court attendance for a determination as to whether or not the undertaking is valid.  When one side doesn’t want to release information that is damaging to their case – it often requires a judge to tell them – give them the documents they are asking for.

Someone didn’t want to provide documents – our information is that it was the city that couldn’t find many of the documents and the project manager that seemed to require a lot of time to find documents.

The last time city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol addressed council in open session she explained that there were another four to five days of examination for discovery and that up to that point more than 60,000  documents had been exchanged.  At one point someone realized there was a collection of documents no one was fully aware of – it isn’t clear who it was who had the documents, the lawyers don’t talk about his stuff – they just send in their invoices and toil away. 

The public has been asking for an accounting on those legal fees – they would like to know how much had been spent to date. The Post filed a Freedom of Information request asking how much had been spent on legal fees and was turned down by the city.  The Post appealed that decision and the matter went to the Privacy Commissioner.

It didn’t take the city long to see the writing on the wall –they released the figures at a press conference on January 30th,  – and said $1,349,952 had been spent to date.

$1,349,952 had been spent on legal fees - to date.The city had argued that telling the public what they spent on legal fees would reveal some of their strategy.  The figures are out and there doesn’t appear to be any harm done.  I leave it to you to figure that one out. 

The fear of course was that the public would be outraged and demand that the city quit the case.  It is a very complex case – the real fear is that the city will settle during the mediation process, have a confidentiality clause put into the agreement and the public will never know just what the settlement amounted to and how much they had to pay out. 

Did the contractor really screw up and will his insurance company have to pony up with a big cheque.  Did the city provide the contractor with a plan for the pier that had major flaws leaving the original contractor with no option but to walk off the job?

Did the contractors insurance company come back with a proposal that would solve the technical construction problems and cost less than the city has spent so far on legal fees?

Why doesn’t city council walk their transparency talk and inform the public – the people who have to pay the bill when council gets it wrong.

The differences are both financial and technical.  There were problems with the design of the pier and there are significant differences of opinion as to what an insurance policy covered and what it didn’t cover.

Done – all the concrete is down – and the steel beams are holding it all in place. Now the railings get put in place.

Earlier this week city manager Jeff Fielding advised council that he and city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol had met with the lawyers representing the city and outlined the city’s position that was going to be put forward during the mediation sessions – which are not very long – hours rather than days.

The city will put forward its position and set out what they are prepared to settle for.  It is not known yet precisely who will do the talking, the person representing the city has to have the authority to agree on a settlement figure. The lawyers representing the city will be in the room.

In the event that the mediation proves to be successful the city is going to have to tell its citizens that there is more money yet to be paid out.  The contractor, HSS has a claim that many informed observers see as valid – money will move from city hall over to HSS.

How much money will move from AECOM, the project managers and the owners of TSH the company that designed the pier, to city hall is the question that matters most to this city council.  If they can recover from AECOM more than they have to pay HSS – they will look like heroes.  And in an election period that will matter.

The mess the city is in wasn’t created by this council – but there were several opportunities to settle the problems that the city took a pass on.

Councillors Taylor, Dennison, Craven and Goldring, led by former Mayor Cam Jackson, were part of the council that got the city into the contracts the city is now defending.  The contracts weren’t the biggest part of the problem; it was the management of the contracts that have hurt Burlington taxpayers. When the full story is out – and it will come out – taxpayers will be livid.

Most of the people in the city’s engineering department that handled all the technical issues and the relationship with AECOM are no longer with the city.  They have moved on to other municipalities.

Most of the people involved in the early development of the pier have moved on - some have done very, very well.The idea for the pier came from a council led by former Mayor Rob MacIsaac, but he left town and went to Metrolinx, and then on to Mohawk College and has now settled as the president of Hamilton Health Services, the second largest health operation in the province with an annual salary of $542,000.  With performance incentives that could rise to $650,000 excluding taxable benefits.

That virtually doubles his 2012 salary ($275,515 plus $47,210 taxable benefits) as president of Mohawk College.  That is quite a step form the approximately $50,000 MacIsaac earned as mayor of Burlington.  MacIsaac has a five years contract. While at Mohawk he had seven weeks of paid vacation; he gets just six weeks paid vacation with the Hamilton Health Services organization.

Of those who were on council when all this happened, only Mayor Goldring has filed nomination papers for re-election. Taylor, Dennison and Craven have yet to formally file.

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Public gets part of the pier cost story – we now know the legal fees. When will the rest of the story be made known?

By Pepper Parr

January 30, 2014


The cat is now out of the bag.  The number wasn’t horrendous but it does take the cost of the pier that was over $14 million, and now has an additional $1,228,040 added to that.  The actual amount spent was $1,349,952 but the city gets a tax rebate which results in a lower number.  We will use that lower number.

And that is before there is any resolution to the legal disputes, which many expect to cost the city even more.

The city released the numbers at a press conference this morning and explained that while doing so went against the policy they put in place December of 2011, the impending decision from the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, forced their hand.

The city apparently decided that they were better off releasing the number of their own volition rather than being ordered to do so by the Privacy Commissioner.

With the legal expenses now public – the city has to consider its options.  Settling this case is what seems to be in the offing but nobody is saying anything.  There have been offers to settle but it takes two to agree and agreements just aren’t in place yet.

Crane working at the pier site topples. Proves to be the point at which problems with the design became evident.

The buzz in the community is that the city does not have a case against Harm Schilthuis and Sons (HSS) and that there is ample opportunity to settle with them.  The folks over at HSS have been wanting to settle since day 1 – way back in December of 2010, days after the new Council was sworn in HSS published an open letter in which he said:

Harm Schilthuis and Sons would like to express how encouraged we are by the co-operative spirit we are seeing from the new council in the City of Burlington to resolve the issue of the Brant Street Pier.

HSS is also very pleased at the City of Burlington’s decision to replace Aecom as Project Manager for this project. This will allow the challenges we have raised with respect to the design of the pier to be dealt with in an independent manner.   We stand confident that the design build proposal submitted to the City of Burlington earlier this year is the solution to a successful completion of the Pier. The team represents a group of the best companies capable of performing this type of work.  Our design build project is ready to begin work in the Spring of 2011.

Also encouraging is the engagement of the City to communicate with the Bonding Company. We are confident that the Bonding Company will be delighted with the opportunity for dialogue. Prior to the election it was quite difficult to have good communications preventing many of the parties involved to understand the various positions. HSS is hopeful that this will be a new day from a communications point of view.

HSS has a number of claims before the city.  It wants to be paid the $2 million plus that is due for work done and approved.  The process was for HSS  to submit their invoices to AECOM, the project manager and for the city.  AECOM would approve the invoices and pass them on to the city who would pay those invoices.    AECOM was the pier project manager for the city.  Included in this $2 million plus are invoices that were approved but not paid and invoices that were submitted but not yet approved.

Where things got dicey for HSS was when AECOM bought Totten Sims Hubicki (TSH) – the company that designed the pier.  When it became evident to HSS that the problem was with the design of the pier, it was difficult to argue with the project manager when the project manager now owned the company that designed the pier.

The design problems centered around a significant change back in 2005 when a pier that was to be close to 200 metres (656 feet) long got shortened to 136 metres (446) which is what the pier is now.  The original design was much more expensive than the city had hoped it would be – remember, this was back in 2005.

Compromises appear to have been made then, in 2005 that made it impossible for HSS to complete the job despite numerous attempts to make changes 

Marianne Meed Ward, who wasn’t a member of Council, was close to screaming when she was telling the public that the organizational arrangement of the pier construction was a problem.  The people in ward 2 certainly believed her and now a large part of the city wants to see her as Mayor.

There is a second set of invoices that were submitted to AECOM but had not yet been approved before HSS advised the city that it would not complete the construction of the pier because of a faulty design.

All the steel beams that had been installed are stripped out and construction starts on the second construction contract. The platform on the right is a trestle that was put in place for construction equipment to use.

A reliable source informed the Gazette earlier this week that HSS had advised the city it could complete the work for an additional $400,000 – that was back before they sued the city.  The offer took place during the Jackson administration and was rebuffed.  Current council members Craven, Taylor, Dennison and then ward 5 council member Goldring were all fully aware of the offer HSS had made as was then Mayor Jackson.

Jackson lost the 2010 election during which three new members were elected to Council and a new Mayor was installed.  It took this new Council some time to get a handle on the file, which was complex. 

With the contractor now off the job, the city called the insurance bond HSS had put in place (they were required to do so) and the insurance company came back with a revised proposal to complete the pier.  The city turned down that opportunity without telling the public how much the insurance company proposal was going to cost and decided to re-tendered the project which was given to Graham Infrastructure at cost of $6,429,700.00  and the work continued. 

New steal beams arrive – construction is underway and the Mayor announces the pier will be opened in July 0f 2013. Not everyone believes him at the time

When the city sued HSS they also sued Zurich Insurance for the value of the performance bond.  In attempt to mitigate their damages the insurance company put together a consortium that included Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., the original contractor.

The city received the proposal through Zurich Insurance Inc. in April 2011, but needed time to review the document. City staff provided advice regarding the proposal to members of City Council in a closed session The Mayor then updated the public at the city’s May 11 Community Services Committee meeting.

Every piece of the new steel used by the second contractor was inspected and then inspected again. The city was not going to get caught with sub-standard steel a second time. Her General manager Scott Stewart, project manager Craig Stevens and the fabrication plant manager close check a beam.

“City Council gave careful consideration to what we saw within the proposal before making our decision,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “Council does not believe that this is the right solution to completing the Brant Street Pier. As such, the city will continue on its path to finding a new contractor.” City council chose not to make the reasons for turning down the proposal public from the insurance company and is proceeding with the plan issue a tender document for general contractors to complete the pier, with that tender expected to be released in July 2011.

All the steel put in by HSS was taken out – new steel put in place and the pier officially opened in June of 2013.

Now the city has to deal with the proverbial chickens that have come home to roost.

HSS claims they have done everything possible to settle the matter but has continually been rebuffed by the city.

City manager Jeff Fielding said at the press conference that there was a mediation date of June 14th but left everyone realizing that not much would happen on that date.

This is an election year for the city.  When nominations close late in September city council will lose the power to enter into a settlement agreement.  When nominations for public office close Council loses the power to approve any expenditure over $50,000.

The city might find itself facing yet another squeeze play similar to the one with the Privacy Commissioner.  Does this Council want to get into an election and have to tell the voters they have been unable to settle the case when it appears that there was an opportunity to settle for one-third of what the to date legal costs have been?

This is an important point:  The contractor wanted to be paid for invoices that were submitted and approved.  They also wanted to be paid for those invoices that were submitted but not yet approved by then project manager AECOM.  There wasn’t any known dispute over the amounts of that second set of invoices;

The contractor was also asking for an additional $400,000 to complete the construction.  This addition was to cover the cost of changes that had to be made to rectify the compromises way back in 2005 when the length of the pier was shortened.

This is all very complex but it should not be beyond the capacity of the city’s communications people to explain.  The public is not stupid – they know how to do simple arithmetic.

Fielding explained to the media conference that he was leading the event because the file is in the hands of the city manager – it is his problem to resolve based on the instructions he is given by Council.

It is clear then that this council, your council, has not yet given Fielding the authority to settle the matter.  Fielding is believed to want to find a settlement the city can live with.

It is a grand pier, a distinct improvement to the waterfront. It was part of the grand plan former Mayor Rob MacIsaac had for the waterfront. It ran into problems that MacIsaac’s replacement couldn’t manage. The current administration made mistakes of its own – the cost of which are not yet fully known. We do know what the legal fess amounted to

It might be time for city council to get this behind them rather than face an expensive lengthy trial while the voters decide if they still want this council leading them.

The construction problems with the pier didn’t take place during the life of the current council.  However, several opportunities to have the original contractor complete the work for less than has been spent on legal costs was spurned.  Now, a Council that could have made better decisions on several occasions find themselves stuck between a rock and a very hard place.

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Council lets city manager release amount paid lawyers for pier defence – but nothing more than that.

By Pepper Parr

January 28, 2014


Whenever the Mayor adjourns a meeting of Council he closes by saying this Council is adjourned until the next scheduled meeting or at the call of the Mayor.

Mayor Rick Goldring as Mayor can call a Special meeting of council at very short notice.

Late Monday evening (yesterday) council decided it would have the city manager hold a press conference and tell the public the whole story about the pier.  That was voted on – unanimously.

Later that evening Councillor Marianne Meed Ward realized that Council had not waived its privilege, by which we mean, information Council had been given in confidence (in Closed sessions) and not passed along to the public could not be discussed in public by the city manager.

Meed Ward talked to people at Legal and got the wording she needed to take to the Mayor and ask that he hold a Special meeting of Council – which took place at 1:00 pm Tuesday the 28th of January.

City Clerk Angela Morgan fails to ensure media alerted to Special Council meeting. Her communications people dropped the ball as well.

Unfortunately, the city Clerk who handles the paper work for things like this, did not ensure that media was advised.  The city’s manager of communications either failed to advise media or didn’t know the meeting was being called.  The communications manager reports to the Clerk.

The communications manager commented to us in an email that: We have not advised media directly of Council meetings in the past but it sounds like this would be something we should do going forward.

Mayor Goldring’s Chief Of Staff didn’t think it was her job to advise media that the Mayor had called a Special meeting of council.

Given that the decision to call a special meeting of Council is one that only the Mayor can make his chief of Staff should have ensured that media was advised.  In a short, testy conversation with the Chief of Staff she commented that was not her job.  One wonders if she really knows what her job is.

Having said all that – the meeting took place and had one purpose.  For Council to waive its privileges and authorize the city manager to tell the public how much the city has spent on legal fees related to the Brant Street Pier.

The city manager was not authorized to say any more than that.  He is limited to talking about what is already on the public record.

One of the reasons the city has gone public with the matter of legal fees is the result of pressure created by the Post’s application to the Commissioner for Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy.

Meed Ward had to remind both her council colleagues, the city manager and the Clerk’s office that it wasn’t that simple.

In her comments at the Special Council meeting Meed Ward said the following:

I want to thank mayor and city manager for honouring to my request for a special council meeting to vote on this matter.

This vote is important for two reasons:

1- It  follows our own process;  only council, though a public vote, has the authority to release confidential information. We can’t download that responsibility to the city manager.

2-More important it is about accountability – we are elected representative of the people and as such we are directly accountable to the public for the decisions we make, including release of the pier legal fees and any other pier related information. We have a duty to the public we serve to have that discussion and vote in public, so the public know where their representatives stand.  We can’t assign that public responsibility to the city manager.

I fully support the release of the legal fees; I have never believed releasing the total amount would compromise our legal position, and recent decisions from the Information and Privacy Commissioner in similar cases have also made that case, and have ordered the release of this information. We have been aware of those decisions for several years, because those decisions were on the public record.

I want to commend the Post for filing the FOI and keeping our feet to the fire on this. That is true public service journalism. It shouldn’t have taken that request for us to the do the right thing, but here we are and I thank the Post for pursuing this in the public interest.

The bigger issue here is the total cost to the taxpayer of the pier including the legal fees.

The public deserves to know all the costs and options that were considered to complete the project, including multiple offers from the contractor to complete the pier. That story has yet to be told, but it will be.

Residents will make their own judgments about whether we have been good stewards of the money and decisions you entrust to us.

We have an opportunity to learn from this experience in the life of our city, and use those learnings to make the best decisions for residents in the future.

The motion Meed Ward brought to Council read:

That Council waive solicitor client privilege over the total aggregate external legal fees paid by the City of Burlington to McLauchlin & Associates since 2008 to present in respect of the Brant Street Pier matter.  The privilege is waived solely to allow the City Manager to disclose the legal fees to the public at a press conference to be held by the City Manager on January 30, 2014.   Solicitor-client privilege is waived for this expressed purpose only, and the privilege continues in effect with respect to all other aspects relating to the matter.     

It is so cold that the city decided to tell you how much it has paid lawyers to defend some of the decisions they made. That will add some heat to things.

That doesn’t leave much room for the city manager to tell us anything but media conferences are funny things – the right question asked often reveals details that just sort of pop out.

Meed Ward asked for a recorded vote on her motion –  it went 6-1 with Councilor Dennison voting against the waiving of privilege.

Back in March of 2013 the city manager asked Council to allocate $10,000 to pay media specialists – hopefully some of that money is left – it’s going to be needed to get through the media conference. 


What can a spin doctor do for you at a media event?

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City manager to update public on Pier court case and legal costs. Why is Fielding doing the talking – did the cat get the Mayor’s tongue?

By Pepper Parr

January 27, 2014


The big news out of the city council meeting Monday night is that the city is going to go public on the Brant Street Pier.

A Standing Committee met earlier in the day and had what Councillor Sharman referred to as a full exchange of view – but those views were certainly not unanimous.  While Council members had the opportunity to make comments on the meeting Councillor Meed Ward was the only one to speak at any length and she pushed at the city manager who we learned is going to hold a press conference on Thursday to: Cover the past, give the public an update on where things are and talk about what the city plans to do going forward.

City manager Jeff Fielding once had his toe nails painted at a London, Ontario event when he was city manager there He will be doing some pretty fancy foot work next Thursday as he explains the situation with the city and the Pier.

Meed Ward had to push to get city manager Jeff Fielding to add that he will be addressing the matter of just how much the city has spent on legal fees.  Buy Band-Aids today – you’re going to want them on Thursday – we will all be bleeding a bit.

We are advised that Justice Fitzpatrick who is hearing the case has scheduled a meeting in May for the mediation attempt that must take place and that a possible trial date has been pencilled in for the month of June.

Councillor Meed Ward wants the public to have all the information available on the pier and its legal problems. Wants the other council members to be accountable for their part in the mess.

Meed Ward said that the information the public was to be given is “less than what could be offered” and added that each council member has to give an account of their position and not leave that task to the city manager.

Press conferences of this nature are traditionally given by the Mayor as the Chief Magistrate but if you recall how Mayor Goldring handled the press conference during the CN derailment a number of years ago – we know why the city manager has been instructed to be the mouth piece.

Time and place for the press conference were not announced.  It should be a hot event.

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Some movement on legal side of Brant Street Pier: City has asked for talks – meeting in closed session Monday to look at their options.

By Pepper Parr


January 24, 2014

There is some movement with the Brant Street pier and its legal problems.  A special meeting of the Community and Corporate services Standing Committee will take place on Monday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

The sign told the story – hell didn’t freeze over and the pier did open.  Now city council has to clean up the mess they created.  Try as they might this council is not going to be able to lay the blame on previous council’s.

Don’t rush downtown to get a seat – this is going to be another of those closed sessions.  The city uses  a Section of the Municipal Act to close the doors when there is a confidential issue to be discussed – and the pier’s legal problems are treated as confidential – they are also critical to the credibility of the city.

The meeting announcement has a Confidential legal department report L-4-14 regarding Brant Street Pier litigation. (L-4-14)  It runs 15 pages long.

So – why the meeting and why so rush rush?

Here is what we can tell you.

There are people within the city administration that want this settled but they get their marching orders from city council and so far – there obviously is not a majority of Council that is prepared to settle this matter.

Based on what we have heard publicly, one of the strongest voices for not settling has been that of Paul Sharman who has convinced himself the city has a case and they should fight it.

The Cheshire Cat  is a fictional cat popularised by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and known for its distinctive mischievous grin.

Councillor Meed Ward must be wearing her best Cheshire Cat  grin – she has believed this issue was settle-able before she was even elected.

Some think that if they settle with Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.,  (HSS)  then they have to settle with AECOM and the other litigants.

Something shifted at city hall and the city’s lawyers reached out to the HSS lawyers and said “we should talk”.  It is not known yet if any talks have taken place – the lawyers can’t arrive at anything definitive until they have instructions from the city council.

The Community and Corporate Affairs Committee will meet Monday afternoon in a closed session – they traditionally don’t report on what they talk about other than to say they talked.

Their report – perhaps with a recommendation will go to Council  Monday evening – again it maybe to just report that talks took place.

Will Council issue instructions to settle this matter?  If they do will they say what they are prepared to settle for?  That’s not the way this game is played.

This Council had at least two opportunities to settle this matter in a way that was fair.  There was an opportunity to go with a solution that was put on the table by the insurance company.  The city had called the performance bond and seemed to think the cheque would be in the mail.

The insurance company came back with a solution to complete the project – albeit at a higher cost – that City Council  rejected, almost out of hand and certainly didn’t tell the public about.

That failure, a close to colossal one, is what has kept the city in litigation for more than two years.

That failure, a close to colossal one, is what has kept the city in litigation for more than two years.There was a second opportunity to settle that may not have gotten to Council.  It was certainly discussed and may have been debated at another one of those closed sessions. An appalling lack of transparency is the one thing that has been consistent with this situation.

The city is now reaching out to the lawyers for at least one of the five litigants and having conversations.  The chances are better than even that the basics of a settlement agreement are in draft form and the Community and Corporate services Committee will consider the options.

Clearly some movement; about time. 

This wouldn’t be because there is an election in the fall and this council wants to get this mess and their mistakes off the table and under the rug?

Background links:

Sad story, expensive story that a dash of transparency could have prevented.

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