Up half the night to tell taxpayers what is painfully obvious – no steel girders on the pier construction site yet.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012   Nothing yet – unless learning that a `tele-handler is on the site.  That’s it?  A tele-handler is a boom that zooms out and is used to offload material.  Problem with the Pier is that there isn’t anything to off load.

How come – and what’s the problem this time?  We were told that steel girders would be rolling into the city the week of the 23rd of July.

The large 40 x 10 foot steel plates arrived and went through several levels of testing.

This most recent round of testing – there are three levels of testing  done in each piece of steel as it goes through the fabrication process.  The problems with the girders being fabricated appears to be at the welding level.  The work gets past stages 1 and 2 but doesn`t make it past test / 3 – which means – it gets done again.

The current contractor isn’t the first company to have problems with steel not passing tests. Original contractor,  Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. has beams in his yard that he was ordered to take out by the city because they did not pass tests.  The city is doing much more rigorous testing and ensuring steel beams pass tests before they get to the construction site.

The city put out a press release with a date line of 2:01 am – that suggests someone was at a keyboard well past midnight crafting words that would give this mess the best possible look.  In the world of politics they call this the optics`.  There is a lot to be concerned about at the political level.  Many in Burlington want this problem solved – and there is no one who wants this done more than the senior levels of the city administration.  But they are, as General Manager Scott Stewart put it in an email to council members last night updating them, we are not going to let expediency get in the way of quality.  And quality appears to be taking time.

I should add here that Stewart doesn’t have Our Burlington on his email list – that information came to us from another source.

There are 39 steel girders that have to be cut from the steel plate and then bent and welded.  They get tested at the bending stage – three times – and then tested again at the welding stage – three times.

Getting the welds done right so that the pier holds up and lasts its 75 year life span is critical. Welding at this level is not all that easy.

When the welds testing is complete they move on to galvanization – which is a process of coating the steel in zinc.  There is little likelihood of problems at that level – but with this project – one never knows.

There is a lot of teeth grinding and many trips from Burlington to Kitchener by city staff.  Craig Stevens,  Project Manager Corporate Strategic Initiatives, was at the welding plant on Wednesday for a first-hand look at the problem.  Stevens and Stewart work hand in hand on this project and bring all the experience necessary to ensure there are no embarrassing mistakes made.  For these two professionals this project, which started before they became employees of the city, this is all very aggravating and embarrassing.

Foggy day and foggy view on just what is happening at the pier construction site.  Object on the right is not the pier, it is a trestle used to drive equipment along to complete the construction of the pier – which isn’t going to happen this month. Completion in 2013 is the target – let’s hope the weather cooperates.

While it is a city project it is really in the hands of the general contractor who has sent the work out to different sub-contractors.  Graham Infrastructure, whose head office is in Calgary, is the general contractor.  The city has insisted on being in close to daily contact with the president of Graham Infrastructure who recently met with city staff to review and see what could be done to the construction time line.

The city learned a month or so ago that weather could create problems with the pouring of the cement – that kind of work cannot be done if the weather is very cold.

Weather is now another very real concern.  There was nothing of note done in June; we have now lost all of July and there is no date set for the delivery of the steel girders.  And the city is not going to give out any dates other than to say – sometime in August – which is a smart move on their part.  The public just doesn`t believe what comes out of city hall because they have been misled so often in the past.  It was only at  very recent meeting of Council that the Mayor finally moved from his Sound of Music official opening date.  Senior staff are saying it will open when it opens and they want to be left alone to manage the project and make sure that no one cuts corners or looks for a fast way to get something done.

For those of us who live in Burlington and hear news reports of chunks of concrete falling onto the roadway underneath the Gardiner Expressway we can take some satisfaction that the pier is being built with a minimum life span of 75 years.  The Gardiner isn’t fifty years old and it’s falling apart.

The Pier will get built, there will be little hiccups and maybe even more delays but when that ribbon is cut and the deck is open to the public there will be immense civic pride and the Mayor will wear a smile that stretches from ear to ear – assuming of course that he is in office when the pier does open.

The city is now talking of a late fall 2013 opening date – next municipal election is December 2014.  That kind of calendar would cause anyone to look at the possible election scenarios.

In their press release the city, in its all is well language said: “Construction work continues on the Brant Street Pier while awaiting the arrival of main steel girders that are undergoing quality testing to ensure they meet specifications.”

There are several steps to producing the steel girders, which pass through three levels of quality testing. The steel plate used to produce the 39 main steel girders needed for the pier project has passed quality testing, however, the first four main steel girders did not meet rigid quality control when tested after welding. Seven more steel girders have now been made and are being tested.

“This is the only responsible way to manage this project,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “Time is important, but it is not as critical as the quality of the steel.”

“The city is working closely with its contractor, Graham Infrastructure, and other members of the project team to ensure the steel quality meets the city’s stringent specifications through the fabrication and welding processes. The main steel girders that were to be delivered this week will be delivered and installed in August.”

“Work is progressing on the Brant Street Pier. Construction continues on the ramp leading to the sandy beach beside the pier. A piece of equipment called a tele-handler, or zoom boom, is on site this week to help install a temporary steel platform to assist in the construction of the pier node.”

“It is important that the pier management team communicates updates in a timely way,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure. “We will continue to keep the community posted and share the good news once the steel girders are ready for installation.”

The city does have to be given credit for being much more transparent that it was under both the former city manager and the former Mayor.  That is a plus and the taxpayers should respect and appreciate this new approach to keeping them informed.

Much of city council is away on vacation.  Councillors Craven and Meed Ward are out of the country.  The Mayor is due to head to Newfoundland for a vacation.  Councillor Dennison is around, Sharman is believed to

With no steel to work with construction workers do the small jobs that would normally get done at the end of the project. The pathway that leads to a beach that was formed on the western side of the pier wasn’t even part of the original plan. No one knew the beach would get formed the way it did..

be at his cottage.  Taylor and Lancaster are unaccounted for but just look for Taylor’s dog and John will be close by.

The City Manager has a firm grip on the process and is well backed by Scott Stewart who is backed up by Craig Stevens.

Now if we can get the welders to produce welds that pass the tests – we will see flat bed trucks wheeling into town with four or five beams on each load.  That’s going to mean more than eight trucks.  The city might want to have the Burlington Teen Tour Band on hand to welcome the caravan.

Stay tuned – there will certainly be more on this story.

HSS continues to operate his construction company while dealing with the legal problems that came out of his decision to walk away from the project and turn the keys for the construction site over to the city.

On the legal front, the city is now in the discovery stage of those proceedings – we get to look at their documents and they get to look at what the city has. Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., (HSS) is understood to be using some pretty tough legal counsel to defend himself against the law suit the city filed seeking damages in the millions.  Many thought, maybe even hoped, that HSS would declare bankruptcy and that would solve the problem.  Those who harboured those thoughts didn’t understand Henry SS.

While senior city hall staff struggle with the problem welders are having, the people over at the Simms building where the legal people do their thing, get daily updates from the outside counsel the city has hired.  One can imagine the frustration the construction people are going through – it is nothing compared to what the legal people are agonizing over.

Think of the possibilities here.  The Pier doesn’t open until sometime late in the Spring of 2014 and the legal people realize they didn’t have the case they thought they had and they settle out of court.  Imagine that happening.  There are a number of people doing just that – and trying to figure out how best to approach such a situation.


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Is Burlington going to see the turkey of the century on Thanksgiving of 2013?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 13, 2012  Project Update # 16 and comments the Mayor made at the Wednesday Community Services committee meeting aren’t as aligned as things are going to have to be if THE pier is to open as planned in 2013.

General Manager Scott Stewart in his 16th report to Council committee on the pier said: Total completion remains as reported April 2013, with deficiency close out and occupancy by June of 2013.

It is a truly attractive pier which will have cost the citizens a fortune but will open in 2013. Exactly when depends a lot on the kind of winter we have.

The Mayor, for the first time, began to hedge his bet and said the important thing was to have the pier done right – which now means without the wind turbine that was to be an “iconic” element of the pier.

“If we don’t open for the Sound of Music in 2013, then we can open on Canada Day.  And if not then, well during Rib Fest – maybe even Thanksgiving.  The thing we need to focus on is getting it right and doing it properly”, said the Mayor.  Those of us at the media table could not see if he had his fingers crossed as he spoke.

Councillor Meed Ward has been around this track before shot a hard look at General manager Scott Stewart and asked: “Is there any reason for delay that is not in this report?”  You know everything I know” replied Stewart.

These beams didn’t meet the specifications called for in the original contract for the pier and had to be taken out and put in storage while lawyers argue who was right and who was wrong. New beams that have passed more tests than an army recruit will arrive later in the month. Then the sound of jackhammers will fill the air.

Quality assurance and quality control is being used throughout every step of the way.  “We test when the steel arrives, we test during fabrication and we test when it comes out of the processes.”, said Stewart.

Councillor Dennison wanted to know if there were any changes in the pier?  “absolutely none” said Stewart, which is not quite true.  The win turbine isn’t in place and isn’t going to be.  There are structural changes that came out of the re-tendering process when new plans had to be prepared.

The expectation is the first of the steel beams will arrive the week of July 23rd.  During the week ahead the city will begin to mobilize equipment that is needed to offload the steel beams and to get them in place.  That probably means cranes and other heavy lifting equipment.  If there is a crane out there that is guaranteed not to fall over – Burlington has it on order.

This project is now a race to get to the point where concrete can be poured before temperatures dip to the point where concrete cannot be poured.

Walkway to the “instant beach” that just sort of appeared on the west side of the pier site has been put in place. There are dozens of small jobs that can be done now while the city waits for the arrival of the steel beams that form the base of the pier deck onto which concrete will be poured.

The focus now is on how much can be done now and how much can be done while the beams are being put in place.  Large contractors now have software that allows them to juggle things the way a guy in a hard hat couldn’t.  But the one thing no one can juggle is the weather and those who have worked on the water at this end of Lake Ontario will tell you that the lake changes late in September and with the wild temperature swings we have been experiencing all the software in the world isn’t going to help.

The tender fruit people in the Niagara region saw an early frost damage a lot of crop resulting in very few cherries on the market and peaches and pears getting close to harvest but not very much on the fruit trees.  If you’re going to enjoy peaches this summer – you’re going to pay for them.

The project remains on budget.  It’s just that this time it is a much bigger budget.  Costs are being monitored in a detailed cost tracking log.  The project has more minders than a Russian spy who has defected.

Thanksgiving eh?  Better late than never – not everyone would agree with that statement.

While the contractors involved in the project watch the weather and move as quickly as they can, another group of people pore over documents as the legal people get ready for what the lawyers call “discovery”, which is when each side of the argument exchange documents and get ready to examine witnesses under oath.  Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum will be a vital part of the city’s case, he is basically the only person left on staff who was heavily involved in the project.  Eichenbaum will spend many days in a room with lawyers asking question after question and producing document after document.  The city will want to maintain it did everything right and the contractors will want to use the documents to prove that the city made significant errors.

There are some who assume the city has a solid case and will win their claim for damages.  There are many in the construction community who will tell you that the case is not all that solid.

And if Eichenbaum’s  presentation at a city council committee meeting recently, where he took Council through a who did what and when during the wind  turbine decision, is any example of the testimony he is going to give – we might be in more trouble than we were prepared for when we sued the contractors and designers of the pier.

We might also never know who has to pay what.  Most people in the construction industry believe that once the discovery process is over the city will review what came out and might find themselves willing to accept an offer from the contractors.  That offer to settle will have a gag order attached to it and we will never know who paid what to whom.



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“Knick, knack, paddy whack – give the dog a bone.” Mayors tries to soothe the environmentalists.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   June 28, 2012  The Mayor threw the environmental community a bone and hoped that would put an end to the howling.  And for a while it might – but not for long – there was no meat on that bone.

The issue had to do with the pier – again.

Working from the top of the graphic there is a beacon, that's the curved object. The turbine was supposed to sit atop the beacon with a shaft going down through the middle of the beacon. At the bottom of the beacon there is an observation deck with stairs leading down to the main deck of the pier. If the turbine is not going to be installed - then there is no reason for the beacon to be in place either. Cap it off at the observation deck.

The turbine that was to send a message to the world that passes by Burlington, those hundreds of thousands that drive over the Skyway bridge and would see the lights on at night and at some point learn those lights were powered by a turbine the city had put up and that they city wasn’t going to pay a light bill for that pier for at least 50 years.  Great message.

Then of course there is the not having to pay for the electricity.  That was said to come in at $3200 a year; and we all know that hydro rates are not going to remain static but assume for a second that they will remain static – $3200 x 50 years; that $160,000 we could have saved.  And we wouldn’t have to spend as much as a dime to save that money.

That turbine was paid for with a provincial government grant that Burlington Hydro got for the city.  The grant was for $100,000 which, based on the latest set of numbers was more than enough to pay for the purchase and installation of the turbine – assuming that the turbine didn’t require any design changes.  And that is not a question that has been fully answered yet.

The bone the Mayor gave the environmentalists was this:


Direct the Executive Director of Finance upon total project completion to transfer the value of the approved change order for the wind turbine element of the Brant Street Pier project to the Capital Purposes Reserve for renewable energy projects; and Direct the Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives to advise the Community Energy Plan Steering Committee that this reserve is in place for future consideration.

Make a note of that one – it is sure to become an election issue.  Note too, that all this is to get figured out at the total project completion stage.  That sort of kicks the day of reckoning pretty far forward doesn’t it ?

Don’t think the environmental community broke out the champagne over this one.




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Now everyone wants in on the turbine opportunity. Henry Schilthuis and Sons happen to have a turbine in their warehouse – any bidders?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 19, 2012  Michael Yakimchuk, Director,  BrightSky Power Renewable Energy Co-operative, an organization that has been trying to get a roof on the building of some city owned property on which to set up solar panels to generate electricity that will raise revenue for the BrightSky shareholders.  He hasn’t been able to generate much interest at the Burlington Hydro level and the city isn’t exactly making his objective easy.

BrightSky is all for anything that will generate power without using fossil fuels.  As strong environmentalists they have been following the story of the turbine that was to be part of the pier.

Yakimchuk says that when the story on the decision to kill the turbine part of the Pier, broke, I “was working for Hydro One Networks and part of my job was to determine the capacity available for renewable generation projects on Hydro One’s grid.  That’s why I was surprised when I watched the City Council proceedings and heard that the turbine was being cancelled because the electrical system couldn’t take the power generated.  I knew this was not true and I notified BurlingtonGreen immediately.”

Is the vibration this turbine will create the real reason council doesn't want to see it as part of the pier?

“It turns out that there was some miscommunication between Hydro One & Burlington Hydro – I don’t believe the misinformation was deliberate.  Most everyone should now be aware that there is indeed capacity available on the electrical system for this project.   There is no need for batteries (this is a red herring) and the assertions that the project could end up costing taxpayers money or affecting the stability of the pier are completely unsubstantiated – this is a dead simple project.

I know that Burlington Hydro is not asking for their money back but I also know how the money was originally approved for the project (by Burlington Hydro) and how it was funded by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).

It was funded out of the OPA’s energy conservation fund and there are specific rules around how that money can be spent.  If the project ends up being cancelled, Burlington Hydro will have to fund the project out of net income which means less revenue for the city.  In the end, Burlington tax payers will be burdened with the cost that should have been picked up by all Ontario electricity ratepayers.”

More and more of this story creeps to the surface.

Late in May, Yakimchuk wrote the Mayor asking that the turbine part of the project not be jettisoned but no one on Council seems to want to listen to the advice now available to them from people who know the turbine business inside out.

The plans being used to build the pier show a dual mode meter.  The device is in the building – all it needs is a hook up to the appropriate electrical cables once the turbine is in place.

Steel beams that were deemed to be deficinet were trucked away late in December. Six months later, the beams to replace these are still not on the sconstruction site. Lots of questions as to why.

What is coming to the surface now are the problems with metal fatigue that will result from the vibrations from the turbine.  There are informed engineers who think that one of two things has to happen to the design: either the base on which the turbine is going to rest is beefed up with additional concrete (and some suggest that the pier itself could not handle the additional weight from that concrete OR that the base for the observation deck and the turbine go right down into the bedrock.  THAT would be a design change.

Still a lot of questions around this issue. Is there something some members of Council know that the rest of the city doesn’t know?  The pier has been a series of problems that can be overcome – but Council is going to have to be candid and transparent with the people who are paying the freight on this one.

All this confusion comes at a time when the city’s legal people begin the process of what they call “examination for Discovery.” This process is expected to last about six months with the first 90 days used to exchange documents.  Each side asks the other for specific documents, and then each side gets to examine the other on the contents of the documents.

It is near the end of that process that the lawyers for each side take a hard look at the facts that have come to the surface and decide if it is worth going to trial and let a judge hear the case or if this is the time to make an offer and try to settle before any trial.

While there are more than half a dozen organizations who are a party to this mess – and each has their own agenda; there appears to be a consensus developing that suggests the city may not have the case it thinks it has.  Too early to be sure.  We will know before the end of the year.

Nothing happens in isolation.  The city still talks in terms of the Pier’s official opening being part of the 2013 Sound of Music Festival.   That would appear to be a very optimistic target date and one Council members would want to edge away from – if the date isn’t met they will wear that one.  The lead up to the 2014 municipal election will begin late in 2013 and having the sour taste of a pier that wasn’t ready yet is not something any council member wants to have to explain.   Watch for some council members beginning to distance themselves from the June 2013 date.

Was she rtight all along? Turbine information is coming form all kinds of people - ciouncil seems to have plus in their ears.

Ward two Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will of course come out of the pier mess smelling like a bunch of roses.  She has always maintained that the city should have negotiated with the original contractor.  Had we done that – we just might have had a pier and we would probably have gotten the finished product for less than we are going to pay for the latest version.

If the city has to shell out additional dollars based on a court settlement the lawyers agree upon – all hell will break loose.

The unfortunate part is that if there is a legal settlement that impacts negatively on the city it will have a gag order attached to it and you might never know what the true cost of the pier was.

So much for transparency.

Yakimchuk, in his letter to the Mayor points to “some important economic considerations.”  He may not realize just how devastating those economic considerations could become.

Stay tuned – this isn’t over yet.

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Keeping the lights on and the flame alive – all part of the BurlingtonGreen mandate – that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

Week 52 – The Pier countdown

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 18, 2012  BurlingtonGreen, a community advocacy group that tends to ask questions and not take brush offs all that nicely has come out publicly and stated that city council has made decisions without all the information in their hands and when given an opportunity to lay their hands on all the information available – they take a pass.

Here is what BurlingtonGreen had to say to day in a letter to media about the state of the wind turbine that was to be built as part of the pier at the foot of Brant Street:

In order for Council to make an informed decision, respectful of the interests of the citizens of Burlington they serve, they require an accurate, thorough presentation of issue facts. They were not provided with this on the pier wind turbine issue. Consistent with our solution focused mandate, BurlingtonGreen stepped up and brought critical facts to the discussion which included bringing two renewable energy experts to Council to address their questions about the environmental and financial facts in regard to the pier wind turbine. The presentations confirmed that the interests of the taxpayer and the environment would be better served by installing the turbine versus scrapping it.

The turbine was not only an approved feature by the former Council but it remained as a pier component up until this April. It was explained that had staff not proposed unnecessary, overpriced battery packs, the project would have proceeded as planned. Now there appears to be new barriers preventing the project from proceeding and critical questions unanswered.

Has money been spent to beef up the pier to support the beacon and turbine already? Was an Ontario energy conservation grant of $100,000 provided years ago to pay for the wind turbine feature? Will there be costs to cancel the turbine that was already ordered? Will Burlington now be left with a large unfinished beacon with no turbine to serve as the profile symbol of our city? Will taxpayers be on the hook to pay annual energy costs to light the pier and beacon that could have been avoided by employing wind energy? We understand that the answer to all of these questions is yes, and therefore argue the turbine should be installed as previously approved and planned.

This Council has the ability and responsibility to assess all the facts and can reverse their decision to cancel the project. There need be no concerns about delaying the pier construction schedule as they could install the turbine after the pier is built. Thus far, we have received no response from Council regarding this proposed solution.

If they don’t reverse their decision, we are confident it will be a regret we will be reminded of every time we look at the $15 million dollar pier with an unfinished beacon and a pile of hydro bills.


Amy Schnurr, Executive Director, BurlingtonGreen

Some of the answers to the questions Amy Schnurr asks are already answered.

Has money been spent on beefing up the beacon tower?  Yes, but that beefing up may have been part of the redesign that was done.  It is clear from the set of plans that are being used for the completion of the pier that some very significant changes have been made in the way “beefing up” is being done to the tower/beacon portion of the pier.

While there could have been costs to cancel the turbine order there will not be any based on comments Debra Power made at a Council meeting.  Power is with Niagara Wind Power, the company that had been sub-contracted to source and install the wind turbine.

The city is certainly going to be left with a tower that will have LED lights on it and that city will have to pay for the energy that is used to keep those lights up at night.

The curved design feature will not have a cap on it, partly because Councillor Taylor though it looked like Champagne flute and he liked that look – that’s what he said, I don’t make this stuff up.   The reality will be that a cap will have to be put on the top of the curved design feature.

There are some serious concerns about the strength of the tower/beacon and whether or not the vibration that would have occurred with the turbine operating would have caused metal fatigue over time.  The question should have been on the table but was not asked and now that Council has decided – no turbine – who cares about possible metal fatigue.

In order for the turbine matter to be brought back to a Council committee several things have to happen.  A council member has to serve notice that they want to matter re-opened – that decision to reopen has to be voted on.

Then if that vote is passed and it is debated at a Council meeting the vote to rescind the decision to take the turbine out has to have a 2/3rds majority – which means 5 of the seven council members have to vote to add the turbine.

BurlingtonGreen is saying ‘never say never” – the opera is not over until the fat lady sings.  They just want Council to keep an open mind, ask all the questions and be sensible and responsible with the information they are given.  And above all – listen.

The observation deck and the beacon tower rising out of it will still be part of the pier when it is completed. What will not be in place is the turbine

The turbine part of the pier at this point has been scrapped. Besides making a statement about Burlington's commitment to the environment the turbine would have provided the energy needed to keep the lights on at night forever - at no cost the the city. BurlingtonGreen thinks the city should reconsider the decision they made and hear all the facts and then make an informed decision.

On the actual construction front -things are quiet.  The steel is now in the shops of the people who will be doing the cutting, the welding and then the galvanizing.  These are time consuming jobs that the city is demanding be done right the first time.

The Quality Program and the Quality Control are doing their work each step of the process.

Sometime during the second half of July we can expect to see flatbed trucks rolling down to the pier apron and off loading galvanized steel that will be bolted into place.

The Quality Program is developed to ensure the quality of the work, thus protect the interest of the City of Burlington.  It essentially involves two parts, the Quality Control (QC) Program which is implemented by the Contractor and the Quality Assurance (QA) Program which is implemented by the Consultant.  The QC Program is specified in the Contract Document, while the QA Program is developed by the Consultant based on industry standards and experience.

The Turbine discussion that is taking place clouds the design issue about the tower/beacon part of the pier.  The tower with the beacon are going to be built.  The only thing that will not be in place is the wind turbine that was to whirl away at the top of the tower/beacon.

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Meed Ward not going to quit questioning pier turbine decision. Her Council members are failing to follow her responsible lead.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 12, 2012  She does it every time – she’s consistent and while she drives her fellow Council members bananas – she strives to get to the point – and the point of cancelling the turbine on the Pier was not at all clear to Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and she had questions.

Mayor may have a lot of explaining to do if Councillor Meed Ward can build a case about why the turbine for the Pier was really cancelled.

Mayor Goldring wasn’t at all sure there was anything to discuss but Meed Ward advised him that she was referring to a document that had been received and filed and that she had a right to comment at length – which she did.

Meed Ward started her comments by saying she was “feeling very unsettled” and the decision made was “not sitting well with her’.  Her sense was that the decision was made for the wrong reasons – she said she was hard pressed to know why the decision was made at all and she wanted to see the dialogue about the turbine on the pier continue.

If each of the reasons we were given is not the reason for cancelling the turbine on the pier – then what is the reason she asked.  All her colleagues sat on their hands.  Councillor Sharman didn’t bring up his usual canard about the “return on investment”.  There wasn’t a peep from the council members.

Meed Ward said she met with the city manager and Craig Stevens of the engineering department but still didn’t feel she had answers that made sense.

To recap the steps that led up to the cancellation.

Contractor says he could install the turbine in half a day whenever the city is ready and that the meters for the net metering program are already in place. But Council didn't want to hear a word of it.

The city was told that electricity from the turbine could not be fed into the electrical grid.  That there was something called the MicroFIT program for which there was a long list of applicants, that included Councillor Dennison who wants to put solar panels on the roof of his health club

Director of Engineering misled staff and council when he suggested that a battery pack – at a cost of $70,000 would solve the problem.  City Council wouldn’t touch that idea and voted at committee to cancel the turbine.

It got a through airing at the Council meeting that approves all the decisions made at Committee.  However, at Council the city learned two things:

That the MicroFIT program was not the preferred choice but that something called net metering was the better solution and that was available the next day if the city was ready.

There was the sound of a jack hammer coming from the pier. Good sign?

At the same meeting Council heard that there were numerous problems with getting the steel that was needed to fabricate the base structure for the pier.  They were also told that the delay with the steel might  mean the city would be unable to pour the concrete that would form the deck of the pier if there is an early winter

That sent a shiver up the spines of every council member and they were not going to even think about something that had the potential to delay this project.

Meed Ward thought the council did not have all the facts or they weren’t paying attention to the facts they had.

She again asked: What is the real reason?  Her view was that the dialogue about the turbine should continue but no one on this Council was picking up on that idea.

Meed Ward said the new contractor has changed much.  `

There is supposed to be more oversight.  “Where was the oversight on the ordering of the steel?

“What assurance are there that we won’t see further challenges.`

Meed Ward was relentless

“I wish I could tell you that we will deliver this on time – I am confident that we can”, which was the best answer city manager Jeff Fielding had.

The matter of re-opening the decision to cancel the turbine on the pier might come down to who knows the Procedural By-law best.

Meed Ward wanted to get this out on the table and continue the dialogue but she wasn’t getting anywhere.  In order for the subject to be opened she had to put forward a motion, get a seconder and then get five of the seven members of Council to vote to just re-open the discussion.

It`s worse than that actually.  Meed Ward would have to serve notice of her motion and then get it on the floor.  Her fellow council members were not going to let that happen

Her only recourse is to bring the matter up again at the next Community Services committee when the next Pier Update will be delivered, which will be June 20th.

This is messy but “Little Miss Sunshine” isn’t going to let this one get away.  She has in the past forced council to go through a recorded vote on six different questions.  She did it once and she will do it again if she has to.

We are rounding the turn at the halfway mark of this council term of office.  Is Meed Ward building election points?   Heaven help them if there is a significant delay in completing the pier – the voters will never forgive them – and they will remember Little Miss Sunshine who stick to her guns like Annie Oakley.

Meed Ward has always believed that the city should have tried to work something out with the original contractor who walked off the job, when he said he could not build a pier based on the design he was given.



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Week 53 of the pier count down; walkway to natural beach coming along nicely. Steel fabrication taking place.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 11, 2012   It wasn’t exactly a busy, busy week on the pier front but if you listened carefully you would have heard the sound of a jackhammer out there.

And the portion of the platform that snuggles up to the walkway along Spencer Smith Park was getting a very minor design change that had been approved some time ago.

If you look carefully you can see the opening that is being made to create a walkway from the north part of the pier, the part closest to the shore, to the shore line. We will have to share that natural beach with the geese but it looks as if it is going to be a very pleasant addition to the pier. Wasn't part of the original design - a freebie if you will and there haven't been many of those on this project.

Large boulders were brought in to create a wall that, once it is all finished will see a walkway from the pier to the water’s edge and onto the natural beach that was formed when the pier base was built out into the lake,  The small natural beach is one of the pluses for the community; probably the only plus we have had so far.

The transportation, cutting, welding, fabrication and then galvanizing the beams that will go back in is proceeding steadily.  While everyone wants the pier completed by Sound of Music 2013 that date may slide and if the politicians are wise they might begin to slowly and quietly move away from that date.

We are going to do this – so let’s do it right and get the problems behind us.



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No steel on the pier yet – but boulders were put in place last week to shore up the natural beach that was formed.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   June 1, 2012   It was a painful evening for our civic administration when they informed council about the problems surrounding the installation of a turbine on the Pier.  Turns out that no one even knew about the availability of a process called “net metering”, a procedure we could be using tomorrow that gets around all the nonsense and misunderstanding about the ability to send energy from the turbine to the electrical grid.

Council chose to just walk from the whole thing – foolish, irresponsible and bad stewardship but unless someone decides to revive the matter – that is a dead duck.  BurlingtonGreen, an organization not known for giving up easily, is expected to be back at Council June 11th and we will see what they can do.  The turbine is not over yet.

Geese know a good thing when they see it. Mini- beach formed on the west side of the pier will be shored up with large boulders that were delivered on Friday.

The other news about the Pier is the delay in getting fully tested steel to the fabricators so they can cut the plates of steel which are 7/8ths of an inch thick; 40 feet long and ten feet wide.  It has to be tested and the documentation that came with it has to be checked and if that’s a go – then the process of cutting the steel begins.

The sense at this point in time is that we will not see steel beams on the site until sometime in July and more likely late in the month at that.

As difficult and as embarrassing as all this is for the city administration they are not going to let this delay result in attempt to take short cuts to make up the lost time.  There will be some work done on what city manager Jeff Fielding calls,  schedule mitigation – looking for ways to shift work around and do tasks now that were scheduled for later in the construction process.

One such task is shoring up the western side of the pier site where a natural beach has formed.  This wasn’t a planned feature – just a small benefit that came our way and with this project the city will take every benefit it can get.

A flat bed truck delivered a load of large boulders that will be used to shore up the waters edge on the west side. Once the steel is tested, cutting will begin followed by welding and galvanizing.

Large boulders are being trucked in and will set down and create an edge to this natural beach area.  The work was done on one of those days when it wouldn’t have been possible to do much else on the site.

Staff believes that with the fifty four weeks left until Sound of Music 2013 they can get the job done.  That will call for several breaks weather wise and we may have had all the breaks we are going to get.  We had a very easy Winter and Spring was good to us for the most part.  That time was lost.

The one thing city hall is going to ensure doesn’t happen – no more screw ups because they didn’t know what was happening.  The city has two consultants in place to oversee and advise on what is being bought and ensuring that what is bought is thoroughly tested before it gets used.

The steel used for the beams that will form the deck of the pier has been a problem from the beginning.  I’m not competent to tell you what the problem was and it appears that many in the engineering department were in over their heads as well.  That is not going to happen this time around.

The city has brought in Mettko to oversee the testing and to ensure the testing done is thorough and complete. Bill Katsiroumpas, P.Eng. a Principal in the company and the Senior Project Manager on this task, explains what is being done:

The Quality Program is developed to ensure the quality of the work, thus protect the interest of the City of Burlington.  It essentially involves two parts, the Quality Control (QC) Program which is implemented by the Contractor and the Quality Assurance (QA) Program which is implemented by the Consultant.  The QC Program is specified in the Contract Document, while the QA Program is developed by the Consultant based on industry standards and experience.

With this kind of weather there wasn't going to be much work done on the Pier. We will need a great second half of July, August and September to get caught up. Prayers are acceptable at city hall..

The Quality Program is applied to all work components, in particular granular base and sub-base, concrete and steel.  In general, the Contractor is required by the specifications to perform QC tests in accordance with stipulated standards to demonstrate conformance. Some common standards are the American Society for Test Methods and Canadian Standards Association (ASTM and CSA).  Another component of the QC program requires that qualification certificates from the accredited institutions be provided for companies and individual performing work on the project, for example Canadian Institute of Steel Construction or the Canadian Welding Bureau.

The Consultant performs independent QA tests to ensure quality compliance.  The QA tests performed by the Consultants are approximately equal to 25% of the QC tests performed by the Contractor in accordance with the requirements of the stipulated standards. The Consultants also review and verify that the qualification certificates provided meet the requirements of the contract documents.

There is very little doubt that anything faulty is going to get through this kind of process.  And that explains a large part of why there is no steel with workmen bolting it all together on the deck of the pier in weather that was made for outdoor construction work.

It will get done and it will get done properly.



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Good grief – will this never end? Pier problems persist. Completion date threatened.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 31, 2012  It was a tough night for the Pier – bad news galore and some serious cock ups as well.  A city council committee learned in considerable detail what the problems were with the turbine and learned as well that the actual construction of the pier will get a later start than planned.

It was a long meeting, individual interests intruded on the process, it became evident that a senior staff member didn’t have a firm grip on the file but there was a hint that there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

Stripped of the beams installed by the first contractor - the Burlington Pier sits naked waiting for beams made of steel that has been fully tested. That testing, which is essential just might delay the opening of the pier. And that wouldn't be a bad thing. That platform to the right is a working trestle that will be dismantled when the construction work is completed.

Lets start with the Pier.  The steel needed to build the deck with had to be returned because it did not meet the specifications.  Having had disastrous problems with the steel used in the first attempt to build a pier out into Lake Ontario the city decided it was not going to make that mistake again and hired a consulting firm to test every piece of steel that went to the fabricator.  Fabricators cut, weld and bend steel based on the design plans they are given.

A shipment of steel that went to the fabricator recently was tested, found deficient and was returned to the manufacturer.   The search then began for steel that would pass the tests from a North American supplier – it looked as if none could be found and that steel would have to be sourced from China – which would have meant a very significant delay.

Steel was found, a batch was sent to the fabricator, it passed the tests and so the contractor ordered all the steel needed.  Guess what?  CP rail went on strike, which meant using trucks to ship the steel.  Guess what?  All the people who used to use rail were now scrambling to get trucks so the contractor is still waiting for the steel to arrive.

And that is why we will not see any construction work being done on the building of the deck of the Pier that will reach out into Lake Ontario.

Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services commented that “this project did not go as smoothly as it should have”.  He got that right – it has been a colossal and consistent mess that Stewart is trying to get back on track and on schedule – and the breaks are just not coming his way.

Stewart wasn’t with the city when the pier project started and he wasn’t all that involved during the city’s experience with the first contractor.  He is the point man on the project now and is doing all that can be done to get it to completion.  He isn’t getting the level of professionalism he needs from some of his staff.

The problems with the turbine are not helping either.

The delays in getting the steel beams in place does create problems.  Once the steel beams are in, the concrete has to be poured and that can become dicey in colder weather.  The hope – and that’s about all it is at this point – is that the weather will be mild in December so that the concrete can be poured.  If the concrete is not poured in December an opening date of June 2013, in time for Sound of Music, becomes difficult to achieve.

The Mayor, in his enthusiasm to see this project through, said many months ago that he looked forward to seeing the pier officially opened during Sound of Music in 2013.  It was a bit of local booster-ism and his way of showing his unqualified support for a project that has been nothing but problem after problem since the day it started but Goldring was committed to seeing it through to completion.

All those beams, in place but useless. They were removed and now the city waits for new steel beams so that construction can begin - again.

It might make some sense to begin preparing the public for an opening date beyond 2013.  Are we going to do this on time or are we going to do it right.  We certainly aren’t going to do it on budget.

Staff are being resolute on insisting that they do it right and that pressure from the community not result in short cuts being taken.

The engineering people are working on mitigation plans – those are the plans you put in place when it looks as if the original plans are not going to work out.

The contractors will now begin work on the front part of the pier, the apron section that leads up to the actual deck part of the project.  This is work that was going to be done later in the project but with no work that can be done installing steel beams the contractor will do whatever they can to show some progress.

The city met with the president of the construction company, Graham Infrastructure, to ensure that they fully understood and appreciated the situation the city faces.

No mention was made of any additional cost due to the delays in getting the kind of steel that is needed.

That’s the Pier part of the story.  The turbine is another part that we tell you elsewhere.  That one is both a real mess and a glaring failure on the part of the engineering staff.  Burlington Hydro doesn’t come out of this looking very good either.

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Mayor Goldring in Saskatoon for municipal pow wow – will return to face Schnurr of BurlingtonGreen. She will best him – again.

By Pepper Parr.

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012   BurlingtonGreen will be back at a council committee meeting providing input and prodding to ensure that the  wind turbine intended for the Pier in the original plans gets installed.

Amy Schnurr tells the Mayor in a letter that she “believes  it to be most unfortunate that the issue needs to be brought to Committee for further debate. Prior to what turned out to be inaccurate information presented to you and the public on April 18, the wind turbine installation was to proceed as planned.

“While the original project was approved by the former Council, we have seen no evidence to suggest this Council had plans to remove the feature from the pier project under its’ current contract. We expect with the hire of a new pier contractor in the fall of last year, the entire project budget was reviewed carefully with decisions made to retain or cancel or modify various components. It is our understanding that the wind turbine remained as a component to be included in the pier project up until April 18, 2012.

Engineering drawing of the turbine tower with observation deck. Rotary blades would be atop the structure,

“All the reasons the turbine was originally approved are still valid. Burlington still needs renewable energy; the pier is a high profile location and will deliver a valuable message to Burlingtonians and our City’s visitors. The project was never intended to make money and it will not be losing money under microFIT.

“Additionally, on May 18 we asked the following from Mr. Eichenbaum (City Engineer) : Can you advise if any structural work was required for the pier to accommodate the turbine feature? If so, can you advise of cost for this added work? He replied: (The design requires a “heavy duty” structure for the Beacon node for the extra viewing deck and the beacon tower frame for the LED Lights. The 2nd upper deck and the beacon tower for the Lights are still part of the project even if the Wind Turbine is not included. We aren’t planning to redesign the beacon structure even with the Turbine not included in the project.)

“Although we did not receive a response regarding the cost estimate, it appears that structural work to support the beacon tower (as part of the original turbine feature) has been included and we would assume with associated costs. This provides further rationale to proceed with the turbine installation. Doing so is financially responsible to the taxpayer.

“As a solution focused agency, we are pleased to have been able to help identify and share accurate facts on this issue. Contrary to what we have heard and read, BurlingtonGreen did not “do digging” to uncover the facts as the majority of the information was forwarded to us. We are less concerned about the misinformation of the past and more about making the right decision based on the facts you now have before you. Please vote to continue the plan to install the wind turbine on the pier as originally approved.

A single piece of construction equipment sits out on the Pier - waiting for steel beams to arrive. Why aren't they here yet?

Schnurr closes her letter with: “We would like to remind Council that during my delegation on April 30 we requested the item be deferred to allow for public awareness and input and to explore potential solutions. You declined this option and instead voted to cancel the turbine project. Thus we would expect you remain in a position to make a decision to install the turbine without further public input or delay and continued debate.

Schnurr has drawn her line in the sand – will council meeting in committee vote to put the turbine back into the plan and put it behind them and move on to – why there isn’t any work being done on the Pier.  We thought you made hay when the sun was shining – and the sun has certainly been shining – but there are no works crews out on the Pier.  Why not?

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She won the debate; she had the better arguments but in local politics that gets you squat.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  May 1, 2012  She certainly gave them a run for their money and she scored points Council members didn’t expect her to make and if this had been an academic debate she would have won hands down – but it was just a Burlington city council meeting and Amy Schnurr  left the podium with a very disappointed look on her face.

The issue was the turbine that was part of the original pier design.  Two weeks ago at Council committee they agreed to cancel the construction of the wind turbine that was once a key feature of the project that is now six years and $5 million over the original budget,  That plus the Cumberland hydro station where the energy that was going to be created by the turbine was to go,  is incapable of taking energy from outside the existing hydro grid.

City engineers apparently didn’t know this when the project went forward.  No one even thought about it when the Pier was literally falling into the lake.  To learn from Burlington Hydro that the Cumberland hydro station couldn’t accept energy from outside the hydro grid had some people spitting teeth but other than that there was nothing they could do.  Burlington Hydro, which is owned by the city, did say they would not ask the city to give back the $100,000 contribution they had made to the construction of the Pier.  But given that the gift was just moving money from one pocket to the other – that concession made little difference.

BurlingtonGreen Ex Dir Any Schnurr told Council how Kingston had managed to merge its history and the benefits of wind turbines to the benefit of everyone. Schnurr believed Burlington has missed such an opportunity in their decision to abandon a wind turbine on the pier.

When the engineers learned that the energy from the turbine had nowhere to go they came up with the idea of putting a battery pack in the electrical room and having the energy go there and be used later – at a cost of an additional $70,000  That just wasn’t on and the turbine was dropped like a hot potato.   The last thing this Council wanted was anything about the Pier that might even look controversial.  This was a “no brainer” as one council member put it.

Not so fast said Amy Schnurr, BurlingtonGreen’s executive director .  She wanted at least a staff report that would look at what the original benefits to the pier were with the turbine and then she advanced her case that the turbine should be a part of the pier, arguing that it would become something iconic for the city; that it would appear in all the city’s promotional literature and that in time the Cumberland station would be capable of taking a hydro feed from outside the grid.

Anything that even sniffs of renewable energy is BurlingtonGreen turf.  They saw the turbine as a renewable energy feature and on those grounds alone they felt it should remain.  Cost – well that wasn’t something they wanted to give much consideration to.  Did the city look at the pay-back cost of closing King Road when the Jefferson salamander was crossing the road?  Did they look at the costs or the payback period when they put in bicycle lanes?

Wind turbines on Wolfe Island close to Kingston, ON now dominate that city's skyline. BurlingtonGreen thinks we missed an opportunity to create an icon for our soon to be completed pier.

Schnurr believed there was a rationale given to support the benefits of the turbine serving as a high profile feature and a marketing tool when the design work was done and she wanted the city to at least review that rationale.  She may have been right from a policy aspect but the politics of spending anything more on the pier was just not on.  The fervent hope for this Council was to get to opening day without any problems.

Schnurr said BurlingtonGreen was unaware of the plans to kill the turbine – they just stumbled across this when reviewing the webcast of the committee meeting.  The story was told the day after the meeting in Our Burlington..

Schnurr had one main point to make – the missed opportunity.   The turbine has been ordered.  Install it and be transparent about its purpose both in the short and long term.

Take full advantage of what could become a visible profile of the city.  Unfortunately Schnurr was forgetting about the 22 storey “landmark” structure that a developer has a right to build a bit more than a stone’s throw from the pier.  She felt Installing the turbine would somehow push Ontario’s Power Generation to upgrade the Cumberland station – don’t think this puny little turbine is going to cause Ontario Power to do very much..

Councillor Meed Ward was the only person to take the Schnurr seriously; all the others were focused on the length of time it would take to pay back the cost of the battery pack.  Meed Ward wanted to know if BurlingtonGreen was prepared to listen as well as speak.  She didn’t come away convinced that BurlingtonGreen was prepared to listen and dropped her line of questioning.

The idea of a turbine on the pier was more for the statement it would make and aesthetics than for the actual energy it would generate. It was not going to be one of those massive wind turbines.

One of the things BurlingtonGreen doesn’t do very well is back away from their positions.  Schnurr wanted the turbine in place because environmentally it was the right thing to do and cost she maintained should not be an issue.  Only a person seriously out of touch with political reality in the city would argue for even an additional dime being spent on the Pier when it is as late as it is and as far over budget as it is.  The city’s image has taken a hammering over the Pier and they don’t want to risk the gains they have made in getting the project back on track.

A point that has to be made is that the turbine originally planned for the Burlington pier was relatively small and was thought of at a time when “going green” was new and the designers thought the turbine would make a strong statement.  In terms of generation capacity the turbine was very small and certainly not something that would loom out over the city.

Schnurr argued that to not include the turbine would be tantamount to saying “if you want to go green, forget about Burlington” and on that level she was pretty close to dead on.  The city is not seen as a place that fully embraces the “going green” approach.  That’s a battle worth continuing but it won’t be fought on the platform of the pier.  BurlingtonGreen will have to find some other battlefield.


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Pier has settled in for the winter; work resumes in Spring; providing a crane doesn’t topple we will see the Pier open in 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 11, 2012  – Whenever there is bad news about The Pier ears perk up and the Doom Sayers wonder why we just didn’t tear it down, take our losses.  At times bad news about The Pier actually gets manufactured and results in front page stories.

The Pier has certainly had its share of problems and they aren’t all the fault of the people who were hired to design and build the thing.  The city’s engineering department made its share of mistakes but the city is not at fault here.

Contractor gets a break with the unseasonable weather and is able to remove all the deficient steel. The trestle, needed for construction equipment lies to the right, the steel rails are to the left of the trestle. Fabricators begin work on the new beams.

As everyone knows – there are a couple of law-suits working their way through the legal process.  In this country it seems to take forever to get a resolution to a dispute – but that too isn’t the fault of the city.  The unseasonable weather has been great and allowed all the sub-standard steel that was put in place to be taken out.  Note that the city didn’t buy the steel, nor did the city specify the steel that was used.  It just paid the bills when they came in.

All the deficient steel was removed before Christmas - the lady is now naked - waiting for a new steel dressing come the Spring. The trestle is still in place but the steel rails have been removed. The windmill that will power the lights will be placed on the rails that stick out on the upper left. It is going to happen.

With all the steel taken out and stored in a yard in Hamilton – (unfortunately at the city’s expenses) because it might be needed when the case actually has a Court date.  One could argue – does all the steel have to be kept?  Good argument but you know that the lawyers on the other side will come back with a way to get out of being found responsible should the city dump anything – so at this point – every scrap of evidence is being kept.  Expensive – yes; necessary, probably.

The contractor is now putting together the drawings that will get passed along to the people who are going to fabricate the steel – this is being done by a company in Kitchener.  That work should be done by the time the winter that has just started comes to an end and crews can get out and beginning riveting the steel in place and then move on to the concrete pours.

It’s all happening on time and no snags or problems.  The city’s engineering department is watching this one like a hawk with an eye on a snake that is trying to slither away.



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A Naked Lady in Burlington – Pier gets stripped of the steel beams that were to hold the platform. This is good news.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 13, 2010   There is a little progress every day – and the unseasonably warm weather the last few weeks has allowed Graham Infrastructure of Mississauga to get much more work done than originally expected.

Lot of fog when this picture was taken - but if you look closely - all the beams that were atop the caissons on the left of the Pier are no longer there.. The trestle, used by construction equipment, is on the right side.

While it was foggy the day we took some of the pictures set out below it is quite clear now that all the beams put in place by Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. of Ancaster, before they walked off the job in December of 2009, have now been removed.  With colder weather setting in there won’t be much that can get done with a slippery, icy surface out there on the Pier.

This photograph, taken before the "faulty steel was taken out, shows just how much work had been done on the Pier. New steel will be put in place in the spring.

Fabricating of the new beams is believed to be underway.  If there is an early spring we just might see new beams being stalled which will signal that the building of the Pier is real and that we are at least heading into the home stretch.

Where does all that steal go?  Well it won’t get made into razor blades quite yet – there are more than a handful of lawyers who want to take a close, almost microscopic look at those beams because a large part of the several lawsuits that are floating around rest on the quality and make up of those steel beams.

And, by the way, whose property are they?

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. is in the process of trying to clarify in the mind of the public, some of the issues related to the role they played in the building that took place during what the city engineering people now call phase one the Pier project .  Phase two is the “new” day with the city believing that they have a solid new contractor in place and all the technical support they didn’t have during phase one.

No word from the city’s legal department as to where things are with the civil trial.  All we hear from them is that they aren’t going to say a word about how much they’ve spent on lawyer’s fees to date.  Were they to do that the spotlight would certainly shift from the folks in engineering to the folks in the legal department.  It is going to be an ‘ouch’ of a legal bill.

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Pier steel beams on the way out. Perhaps heading for a razor blade factory somewhere.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  December 23, 2011  –  It’s been awhile since we’ve said anything about The Pier.  Hasn’t been much to say.  Now there is news.  Good news.


Sometimes he’s called the “stick handler”; sometimes they call him “the fixer”.  Most will tell you that if he says it’s going to get done – it will get done or someone will be answering to him pretty quick.  He’s not known for his diplomacy and during his time with Burlington as the General Manager Community Services he has stepped on a lot of toes – but he has gotten things done.  He has been given some of the most problematic files, which he never shirks – he just gets the job done.

The Pier became one of the pucks that Scott Stewart had to handle and when others at city hall missed a pass that was sent their way Stewart would circle back – pick up the puck and move it up the ice.

He has left the politics and the PR side of the Pier to others but been on the scene or behind the scene for every major problem that came up as this new Council got a firm grip on The Pier problem and convinced most of the citizens that they were doing the right thing.

That there is one big load of steel on its way out of the city to a home unknown to us as this point. But it isn't ours anymore. A Christmas wish come true for the folks in the city's engineering department.

The one thing Scott Stewart doesn’t do is give you a deadline that he knows just cannot be met.  So when people wanted to know when something was going to happen down at The Pier, Stewart would just say that things were on track.

He is still looking for a couple of light standards – but he knows where they are.

The last quarter of the year has been a tough one for both Stewart and his chief sidekick Kim Philips who GM’s things at the Budget and Corporate Services side of city hall.  The hospital and its problems are her domain; The Pier is Stewart’s.  Both will want to take some much deserved time away from their desks during the holidays.  Phillips however is wearing the Acting GM title until the first week in January so she can’t get too far away from things.  Stewart will be resting up and perhaps Phillips will get away for a bit after the holidays.

Stewart though has to be taking much satisfaction from the pictures that accompany this article.  He wouldn’t say when work would actually begin down on the waterfront because he knew that the moment he put a date on something – something would go wrong.  But earlier this week a flatbed trailer hauled away the first of the many steel beams that have to go before The Pier we have all been waiting for begins to take shape.

Construction crane delicately removes steel beams from the pier - fist major step into Phase two of what has been an expensive and politically damaging project for the city - but it is now under control and proceeding ahead of schedule.

A crane can be seen on the horizon down there swinging in and out between the flatbed truck and the structure that is currently in place; but coming out one big beam at a time.  The decent weather has allowed work crews to be on the site getting a bit of a head start on things.  If the weather holds up they just might manage to get it all out before the snow and the really freezing weather make the site unsafe for work crews.

So, come New Year’s Eve, Scott Stewart and Tom Eichenbaum, Director of Engineering for the city will be hoisting at least one to celebrate their success to this point and know that the hard part is behind them.  All they have to do now is approve requests for payment and make positive reports to city council.  Few taxpayers recognize either man should they pass them on the street – all should be happy they are in place.  Hoist more than one on the Eve fellas.

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City Solicitor’s dance card filling up – Council to hear legal strategy December 14th ; will she ask Council to go into closed session?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON November 16, 2011 – It was a Community Services Committee meeting; that meant Scott Stewart was on deck and that meant an Update on The Pier. It was short – less than 50 words actually – which meant there was nothing really happening and Stewart suggested that perhaps Pier Updates could be dispensed with.  ‘Not so fast laddie’ was the response he got to that idea.  Councillor Dennison said there “was significant enough concern” in the community and that putting out the report lets people “at least know there is something going on”.  Meed Ward chimed in saying she was supportive of continuing the updates at every second Community  Services meeting. “It is not a lack of trust” commented Meed Ward. “Things do happen, things did happen.  This is a prudent course.”

Then Meed Ward upped the ante a bit and asked when there might be some information on how much money has been spent on lawyers and what the legal strategy was going to be regarding the Pier going forward.

Stewart, along with Acting City Manager Kim Philips, advised the committee they could expect something at the December 14th committee meeting.  Meed Ward wanted more than an ‘expect something’ but the best she could get was that there would be some material on what the strategy should be on releasing information about legal costs but there would be no numbers.

General Manager Scott Stewart on the left and Councillor Meed Ward second from the right (Helen Wallihura in the middle) This is not the last time Meed Ward will be using hand gestures to communicate with Stewart.

Meed Ward and Stewart bantered back and forth on what exactly the committee was going to get.  “All expenses on the Pier” asked Meed Ward – “No,”, responded Scott Stewart. ” there will be an overview and discussion around a strategy then discussion around the costs.”  It was like pulling teeth from a hen.  It was clear that staff really didn’t want to talk about this and equally clear that Meed Ward did want to talk about how much money had been spent suing the various parties that were involved with the building of the Pier during what is now called Phase 1.

Staff kept talking about looking for a strategy within which they could then release specific financial data on the Pier.  How much are you prepared to bet that much of this “strategy” stuff will get discussed in closed session?

One got the sense that staff (city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol was not at the meeting) wanted to say as little as possible but that cat was out of the bag and Meed Ward wasn’t going to put it back in.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison made an important point when he advised the committee Wednesday evening, that Burlington has not been involved in any construction related litigation in more than 17 years – which made the announced attendance of city solicitor Nancy Shea-Nicol at a December 14th committee meeting all the more interesting because the city now has law suits being pressed on a number of corporations that were involved in the design and phase one construction of  The Pier.

The city has brought in outside legal counsel – understood to be Weir & Foulds, a Toronto law firm that has been a leader in municipal matters, advising on every step they take.  The city has also had a law firm overseeing the procurement of material for the second phase of The Pier.  Ms Shea-Nicol must spend the better part of a day each month approving invoices that several members of council are just itching to know what the total amount is on the invoice.

Councillor Meed Ward made The Pier an election issue during her campaign for public office and she now wants to know just how much the city has spent on legal services.  She had wanted the city to go back to the original contractor and work out the problems with Henry Schilthuis and Sons, (HSS) but the city decided not to “kiss and make up” nor did they like the look of the offer Schilthuis insurance company put on the table.

The real legal issue that is costing the city a small fortune is these steel beams which were found to be defective after a crane accident during phase 1 construction. Councillor Meed Ward wants to know how much the city has spent on legal costs and the city solicitor doesn't want to tell her - yet.

The completion of the Pier, for an additional $5.8 million, is now in the hands of Graham Infrastructure, who now have a construction trailer on the site and may soon begin removing all the deficient steel that is in place and have things ready for the new ‘up to spec’ steel that will be available sometime in the spring.

Shea-Nicol, the Director of Legal Services as well as Solicitor for the city and was once a planner who, in the words of the city’s Director of Planning Bruce Kruszelnicki, moved to the “dark side” and took on “robes” which are not made of silk but perhaps that honour will come her way in the future.  She certainly understands the need for a strategy but does tend to keep every scrap of information that crosses her desk tucked into a drawer or a brief case she locks.  The idea that a public has to be informed if they are to make responsible decisions seems to evade her.  The view seems to be that ‘we the lawyers know best’ which is fine but there is an obligation to let your client know what you are doing and why – and the client is the city council but is not just the city council. The people who pay the taxes have a big interest in all this.

In the meantime Shea-Nicol will battle with council and say as little as possible until she is absolutely certain the city has kept its powder dry and is ready to negotiate the best possible settlement for the city.  Let’s just hope the parties on the other side don’t come across anything during the ‘examination for discovery’ sessions that could jeopardize the city’s claim.

While the Director of Legal Services will put forth a strategy which council will debate – it is the city council that decides what it wants to do – yes of course with advice from the legal counsel, but one would hope that common sense would prevail and that respect for the taxpayers would be top of mind.

This council has a tendency to believe that everything their lawyers tell them is exactly what they should be doing – and that is not responsible local government by any stretch of the imagination.  A council has an obligation to fully inform its citizens and to call to account in-house lawyers who might be in thrall to colleagues who are with large prestigious firms in Toronto. Burlington’s city council has kept information on the cost of this legal mess from the public for far too long.


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We got up close and personal with The Pier. It was not a pretty picture. You had no idea how much steel has to be removed.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7, 2011  The city took a slew of media people out onto the Pier and gave us all time to wander about and have a look at just what it looked like up close.  There were a number of politicians along – The Lady Jane, our freshly minted MPP, Jane McKenna, who now gets a bit more than $1500. each year to drive from Burlington to Queen’s Park, where she will work on our behalf, was on hand wearing two right-footed work boots, which we thought might have been a political statement.  Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster was also on hand but not wearing her delightful pink work boots.  “They give me blisters” she explained, “unless I wear thick socks”.

It was a bit of an experience to walk out on the Pier.  While very clearly a construction site, what was noticed immediately was that the “instant beach” that has formed on the west side of The Pier at the edge of the breakwater, has grown considerably since we last saw the site.  This is where the city wants to, at some point in the future, put in something in the way of a boat dock. We just might have more beach to work with than we thought we’d have.

The Pier as it stands today has three parts. The trestle to the right which is used for construction purposes and will come out when the work is completed. The round section in the lower left of this picture, which is built above land. The rest, that large S shaped section that reaches out into the lake - every inch of that steel has to be taken out. The caissons the S shape rests on are embedded five metres into the lakebed and are solid and do not have to be replaced.

What had not been made clear to the public, and I have followed this issue for some time, is the amount of steel that has to be taken out and trucked off the site into storage somewhere. Basically all the steel is going to be taken out.  That was never really made clear during the many council committee sessions or in the 10 Pier Update releases the city has put out since this mess came to the surface.

What the city is faced with is replacing all the steel that has been put in place.  The only things being kept are the caissons (those are the big round pipes that have been driven five metres into the  lake bed.  All the steel, ALL the steel that has been put in place is being taken out and placed in storage, while the lawyers work through the legal difference of opinion.

And that is what the legal fight is all about – the steel used for the construction of the site was not what was needed but that didn’t become evident until the crane accident.  Can’t blame the contractor for that one – he didn’t specify the steel, he just built to plans he was given.  Architects and structural engineers do all the designing and planning at work and they sign off on that.  So the goof was at the architect and design levels.  We have been saying the contractor walked off the job – think I can understand why he walked.  He couldn’t build a Pier based on the plans he was given.  Quite why the original contractor didn’t do the level of due diligence that would have revealed the problems is something we don’t understand.  This is probably something the contractor will regret for some time.  But we think it will become clear that the city issued a call for bids and gave the contractors drawings that called for steel that proved to be unsuitable.

In the illustrations you can see just how much steel is involved – basically ALL of it.

The problems were not the making of the current Council.  They approved a contract that involved plans that had been prepared and signed off on by professional architects and engineers.

Should the city engineers have taken a closer look at the drawings they issued?  The designers and the structural engineers signed off on the plans – is that where the city’s responsibility ends? Someone, somewhere at the design level really screwed up on this – and that will get worked out by the lawyers.  However, you the public may never know just what happened.  The city doesn’t care if we know what happened – what it want to do is recover as much of the money that has been spent as possible.  This project was supposed to cost $9.2 million in 2010.  Graham Infrastructure, the firm hired by the city to complete the Pier, is being paid $5.9 million.  Other costs total $8.4 but we’ve not learned yet what the legal bill for all this is going to amount to – but know this; it is not going to be a small bill that will get paid out of petty cash.

The "instant beach", a natural formation of sand that was formed as a result of the currents around the Pier is a gift from Mother Nature. It is now twice the size of what is shown in this photograph and just might grow to be even larger. Plans to put some kind of boat docking in place are in the thinking stage.

City council will not even go along with saying how much they have spent to date – they claim that would reveal their legal strategy to the people they are suing.  The people the city is suing already know the strategy – a claim has been made.   Some Council members talk in terms of recovering some of the additional money they have had to spend.  Given what they have known since last December that was irresponsible.  The city would like to recover as much of that money as possible.  Don’t think they’re going to get what they were hoping for.

The engineers and architects that screwed up don’t want you to know what they did wrong either.  This will get dragged out for as long as the people the city is suing can drag it out – but when it comes down to the short strokes the people we are suing will settle.  Just hope that the city stands tough and gets as much as they can for the damage done to our reputation.

Where does all this leave Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., the original contractor?  They are between a rock and a hard place.  All they did was attempt to build on plans the city provided.  They may find a judge deciding the contractor should have taken a much closer look at those plans but if your doctor gives you a prescription you assume that he knows what he’s doing – after all he is a doctor.  A judge might also decide that the city bears some responsibility for giving out plans for a Pier that in effect could not be built.  Had that crane not fallen over we perhaps would never have known about the deficient quality of the steel. That’s something the courts will work out – but methinks that  Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. has been had – to some degree due to a bit of negligence on their part, they should have perhaps checked those plans a little more closely.

The structural problem, according to reported comments city engineer Tom Eichenbaum made, came to the surface when the city hired a materials testing firm to do an analysis of the steel. Eichenbaum is reported to have said: “Through forensic destructive testing, they were able to chop up beams and do some testing on the actual metal content …there was enough concern that it may not meet the long term strength requirements”.  That steel certainly didn’t meet the requirement when the crane toppled over.

Now we understand why the Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. insurance company came back with a proposal to re-do the deal.  The city didn’t buy the deal (although we’ve no idea what the deal offered was, because the city’s legal department keep the kimono on that matter tightly closed).

As for The Pier – it is going to be, in the words of  Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum, “fantastic”.  During his comments, while we were all out on The Pier, Eichenbaum mentioned  there was “going to be 150 LED lights spread out along the Pier, which will be quite a site from the Skyway bridge”.  “It will” said Eichenbaum, “define a part of the Burlington shoreline.”

The 150 LED lights that will go on the Pier will be powered by the small wind turbine that is part of the structure. City engineers expect the Pier to be quite a sight from the SkyWay bridge at night. They will define the look of the city's shore line.

Marianne Meed Ward took part in some of the tour – the Mayor was there for the full Monty but the other council members took a pass.  They didn’t need to see the site – they had already seen it – last December when it was a lot colder than last Friday afternoon.  But on that cold December day every member of your council knew exactly how much of the steel had to be taken out – ALL of it.  But they didn’t pass that fact along to their constituents.

Will it all come out in the wash – yes but that wash will never get hung out to dry.  The city will settle with the architects and the general contractor and the insurance company and the  agreement will include a gag order which will prevent you from ever knowing all the facts.

It is nevertheless going to be quite a thing to see.  It will make a big difference to the shoreline and the way Burlington sees itself.  But we will have paid far more than we should have to get that Pier built.  That isn’t something the current Council did but there are three members of this Council – Craven, Taylor and Dennison who were on deck at the time and they bear some of the responsibility.

The Mayor wasn’t on the Council that did the original deal and he wasn’t Mayor when the problems came to the surface.  What Goldring has done is make the best of the hand he was dealt and for the most part he has done a very good job.  But he could have and should have let the public know just what he was up against.  Had he done so however, those who wanted the Pier torn down would have been howling at his doorstep – not something he deserves.



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How did she get to see a copy of the contract and what`s in that big orange boxÉ

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 5, 2011  The contract isn`t signed – yet; lawyers need time to get all the documents together,  but there is something going on down at the Pier.  Either that or aliens have landed and they are hiding in that bright orange container parked on the Pier.

The contents of that container is the beginning of the construction of what the city is euphemistically calling  phase two of the Pier development.  Phase 1 was a total bust but Phase 2 has gotten off to a great start.

With the contract price for the completion of the Pier fully understood by everyone and the schedule in place, it was time to move on to other issues.  But before your Council could do that Ward 1 Councillor Meed Ward wanted to know more about the sub-contractor that Graham Infrastructure was planning on working with.  The question several people had when the council meeting adjourned was: Who cares ?    Graham Infrastructure is the company the city has contracted with and who they use to work with them is entirely up to them but Meed Ward said she had researched the Joint Venture partner and couldn’t find very much about them and asked staff to provide more detail and background on the company.

Staff has better things to do with their time.  And the councilor needs to let the contractors get on with their job.  Meed Ward didn’t support the decision to re tender – she felt that something could have been worked out with the original contractor.  When it came time to vote for the project, Meed Ward did support the decision and said at the time she would have “preferred the city go through a different door but that door was now closed so we should move on“.  Indeed – it is time to move on.

What's inside that orange container? The three missing lights? Continers are the first step to getting contruction of phase 2 underway. Will we hear jack hammers soon?

Meed Ward however is sticking with this one.  She somehow managed to get her hands on a copy of the contract with the contractor, which has yet to be signed, and mentioned to her fellow council members how thick the document is.  Some time ago this council decided that it didn`t want to “get too far down into the weeds“ when it came to project oversight.  Going through a contract that has yet to be signed is best done by the folks over at legal.

There is a building level of exasperation on the part of several council members (probably safe to say all council members) over the often unnecessary questions that Meed Ward asks and the requests for information that tie up staff time and for the most part serve no useful purpose.  The member for Ward 2 has been on council long enough to have learned just what the job is and t let staff do their work and allow council meetings to proceed in a more timely manner.

What the folks at legal have been doing however is a concern for Ward 3 councilor John Taylor who wanted to know what the city`s legal strategy is going to be once the case gets into what lawyers call the “discovery phase“ and what the legal costs have been to date.  Council has a right to at least be briefed on the legal strategy (that will be and should be a closed council session) and Taylor pushed a bit to get a commitment from staff as to when council would learn where things stand on the legal side.

We will know what legal is thinking before the end of the year.  Taylor pressed for a specific date and wanted something during the last cycle of council meetings in November – the best he could get was a guarantee that there would be information before Christmas.  We can expect a hefty number when the legal department eventually opens their kimono – expect to experience some heartburn.



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Why the anonymity from the Pier Watcher ? This one doesn`t pass the smell test.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 4, 2011  – In the world of newspapers and other media you learn to protect your sources, but at the same time be sure that your sources aren’t using you – and when a source does not identify themselves, by which I mean you don’t really know who they are – be very, very, very careful – because that source usually has something to hide and they want to manipulate the process.

A number of months ago there was an email address burlingtonpierwatch@gmail.com – a citizen who had developed an interest in what was happening at the foot of Brant Street.  The Pier watcher disappeared during the summer and has now re-appeared with information that they could only have been gotten from the lawyers involved in the dispute with the city.

Your city council has finally resolved what has been a debilitating and financially expensive experience,  but to the credit of both the Mayor, his council and senior city staff – plus those secretive folks in the city’s legal department,  the pier project is now back on track and with a bit of a break with the weather you will be out on that Pier in the summer of 2013.

Expect to see men and equipment out on the Pier any day now. The lawyers of course can now begin their squabbles - the city has a strong casse.

It has been an exhausting process and an expensive one in terms of money spent on lawyers and consultants not to mention the staff time the construction errors ate up.  But we are past that – and we truly are past all that.

However, there are those that want to limit the damage to themselves and they are using the electronic media to mess things up a little while the lawyers work towards some kind of a settlement.

The parties in all this are primarily, Zurich Insurance, the company that put up the performance bond – they want to get out of that mess for as little as possible.

Henry Schilthuis and Sons, the original contractor who walked off the job when they found that they couldn’t complete the job with the design they had been given and  Aecom, the company that now owns the engineers who did the original design work.

The city is suing both for $7.5 million and $10 million respectively and looking for $3.5 million from the insurance company.  These are large sums of money and the people being sued will fight very hard to get the amount of the claim they are going to have to pay down to as low as possible.

So when you see things like what is set out below being sent out you begin to wonder – who is the Pier Watcher and who is he working for and where is he getting his information ?  Read on and decide for yourself.

 Enter Howard Wise – the construction lawyer you would rather have on your side.

 Clearly HSS Construction is not planning to back down from the Brant Street Pier fiasco. In fact, they’ve decided that Howard Wise will be replacing Phil Horgan to lead the HSS legal battle. This only can signal that the gloves are coming off. Horgan is known as a construction lawyer who concentrates on reaching solutions. Howard Wise has a reputation of fighting and winning.

 This seems to be a shift for Henry Schilthuis, (president of HSS) well known for his gentle demeanour and his default to working out problems (HSS hasn’t been embroiled in a lawsuit in over 50 years until the pier came along).  It could be that the bonding company is pushing HSS to start playing hardball and teach the municipality a lesson. There are concerns among bonding companies that municipalities are relying too heavily on bonding companies to solve what are contractual disputes.

 What does all this mean? Goldring and company now know Election Issues #1.

Language like “teach the municipality a lesson” and the concerns of the bonding company – interesting.  Will the Pier Watcher come forward and identify himself ?

Election issue # 1 is to deliver on your promises and Goldring said he would finish the Pier and his Council has gone along with him.  All the critical votes have been 7-0  Promises by the Mayor have been delivered.


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It’s a done deal. Council to approve pier contractor Sept 26th. Council members may dance on their desks.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 14, 2011 It’s done. The city’s Community Services Committee approved an Engineering department recommendation to go with the bid submitted by Graham Infrastructure to complete the construction of the Brant Street Pier at a cost to the city of $6,429,700.

Every member of council voted FOR the recommendation – all in favour votes by this Council have not been the norm. The matter goes to a regular Council meeting on September 26th where it becomes legal. You can expect to see construction people on the site the next day.

The Council committee went for the whole package which added $283,360 to the price which included the extension of the promenade from the edge of the pier right up to Lakeshore Road and for the access ramp that will let people get to the small mini beach that has formed on the west side of the pier.

They deferred on a floating dock on the west side of the pier even though councilor Dennison pushed a bit to get that included. What happens next?

Here’s the schedule:

Finalize contract and mobilize the construction team – October 2011

Site preparation/Steel removal – November/December 2011

Much of the steel used in the first phase was found to be deficient and will have to be removed.

Steel fabrication – November 2011 – March 2012

New steel beams that meet the design specifications has to be fabricated and delivered to the web site.

Steel installation – April May 2012

This is the point where it all begins to come together.

Deck and beacon construction May to December 2012

The beacon, which we’ve heard very little about gets built during the phase of construction.

Winter shutdown    December 2012 to March 2013

An early winter or a long winter could extend this phase. If it is a mild winter some time may be gained.

Total completion, grand opening – April – June 2013


Council looks for re-lection November 2014

The first major task is the removal of tons of steel beams that are deficient.  Some of the beams that were never used are shown above.  Who will get the funds recovered from the sale of this scrap steel?

The first major task is the removal of tons of steel beams that are deficient. Some of the beams that were never used are shown above. Who will get the funds recovered from the sale of this scrap steel?

There was a very satisfied feeling in the Council chamber when all seven hands went up approving the recommendation. And they have every reason to be satisfied – they worked long and hard and overcame several significant obstacles.

There are legal points to be argued with the claims the city is making against the original contractor and the designer – but those are matters for another day. Wednesday, September 14th was a win day for this council and they deserved to feel pleased with what they had achieved. The Engineering people deserved the credit they were given

The total project cost, including the nearly $5.98 million spent to date, will amount to a total of $14.44 million, which does not include the legal costs.

There is more to say about where we are with the pier project; how we got here and just what those “lessons learned” were. Agreeing to a $6 million dollar project and ending up with a price of $14. million calls for a hard look at what the crowd at the city hall really did. Credit where credit is due, yes – but accountability and laying the responsibility for the mistakes where they belong is also a part of the process. We will cover that story when city council passes the by-law that lets properly qualified contractors begin their work.

Much of the steel from the circle area on the left out to the end of the pier has to be removed and replaced.  The caissons that dig deep into the lake bed are sound and that portion of the electrical system installed is in good shape.  However, three of the light standards seem to have just disappeared.  The Engineering department managed to return the light standards that were unacceptable and has bought twelve new light standards

Much of the steel from the circle area on the left out to the end of the pier has to be removed and replaced. The caissons that dig deep into the lake bed are sound and that portion of the electrical system installed is in good shape. However, three of the light standards seem to have just disappeared. The Engineering department managed to return the light standards that were unacceptable and has bought twelve new light standards

The city has a strong legal case and will probably settle with the designer and the contractor at some point in the legal process but, as the Mayor said during the meeting – “that is something we will handle on another day.

Graham Group of Companies is a North American-wide company, with a local base in Mississauga. Graham is the fifth largest construction company in Canada with more than 1,200 salaried staff and a 2010 revenue of $1.8 billion.




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Getting closer – staff has made choice, which they explain to Council andt that t gets voted on. Will it be a 4-3 for or an all 7 for?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 9, 2011 The Engineers have done their work and come to the conclusion that Graham Infrastructure of Mississauga should be the company that completes the construction of the Brant Street Pier. Hallelujah!

The recommendation is part of a report that will go before Council September 26. This has been a long protracted project and it looks as if the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train coming towards us.

The city received and publicly opened four bids from pre-qualified contractors to complete the pier project on Aug. 26. Prices ranged from $6.5 to $10.5 million. Those numbers included 13% HST; municipalities pay just 1.7% HST. The lowest bid came in from Graham Infrastructure.

The city reviewed all four bids to ensure they complied with the requirements of the tender documentation issued to seven prequalified contractors in July 2011. The total contract price of Graham’s bid is $6,429,700, including net HST at 1.76 per cent.

The natural beach was a gift nature gave the city.  Does the city have to spend additional money to build an access ramp to the location?  And is the access ramp proposed the most cost effective solution?  And will we call it the MacIsaac ramp?

The natural beach was a gift nature gave the city. Does the city have to spend additional money to build an access ramp to the location? And is the access ramp proposed the most cost effective solution? And will we call it the MacIsaac ramp?

The bid includes two optional items: a beach access ramp and additional concrete work for the waterfront promenade in Spencer Smith Park. Interesting that the city does not break out the cost of the waterfront promenade part that is needed and the ramp to the natural beach that was formed by current that developed around the pier.

The concrete work for the promenade is necessary – this Council can and should seek some public input on the access ramp to the natural beach. We have a council that talks about getting input from the community but we don’t see this council asking people in the community what they want.

Our Mayor has stayed the course and held firm to his belief that the pier could be completed for the amount that was allocated. And he has done so with a considerable amount of uniformed opposition from a group that want the thing torn down. Well the Mayor has done his job – his council has been with him – well everyone except Ward 2 Councilor Meed Ward who voted with against going forward with a tender because she thought a deal could have been worked out with the contractor that walked off the job. She now takes the position that she will work with whoever wins the tender award. Good for her.

City staff have done a superb job of keeping this very difficult phase of a problem task on point. It has not been an easy job but they’ve done it and done it with all the expertise and professionalism that was missing when the project got started two council terms ago. Again – kudos for a Mayor that stuck to his guns.

I’m looking forward to our Mayor asking each Council member to hold a meeting in their ward at which the Mayor will listen to opinions on whether or not the access ramp should be included in this second phase of the construction project.

There’s nothing wrong with the ramp and it makes economic sense to include it in the next phase of construction – but this city has put up with a lot of delay and a pile of additional expense and they deserve the right to have this all be it small addition explained to them and given a chance to voice there opinion.

Ward 4 councilor Jack Dennison commented that “municipalities certainly no how to spend money” when the idea of an access ramp was first proposed by city engineers.

The Graham Group of Companies is a North American-wide company, with a local base in Mississauga. Graham is the fifth largest construction company in Canada with more than 1,200 salaried staff and a 2010 revenue of $1.8 billion.

Graham is an employee-owned, industry-leading construction solutions partner. They are a diversified and growing company active across North America.

Sounds like a pretty decent organization.  They are certainly big enough and appear to have the scale needed to get our pier built.  Let’s see what Council decides when they discuss the staff recommendation.

Sounds like a pretty decent organization. They are certainly big enough and appear to have the scale needed to get our pier built. Let’s see what Council decides when they discuss the staff recommendation.

Graham covers the entire construction lifecycle and every contracting mode: general contracting, CM/GC, project management, design-build, design-bid-build, integrated project delivery, turnkey solutions, renovations/upgrades, Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and partnerships, commissioning and post-construction management. This versatility is underpinned by our major competitive advantages:

Extensive integrated capabilities, based in Graham’s offices and shops in more than one-dozen centres across North America, lifting us far beyond a standard general contractor or construction manager;

Large, company-owned equipment fleet to help us self-execute construction work;

A unique, industry-leading integrated information system that creates a seamless and accurate project execution platform from first contact through final reconciliation.

Two questions: Where were these guys when we began the pier construction project and do they have a trestle of their own?

Assuming council accept the staff recommendation – will we hear jackhammers on the site before we see snow?





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