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

The Pier 100By Pepper Parr

June 24, 2014


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

Bare bones Pier from high with trestle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

  • RE: “One has to wonder just how gullible this council thinks its voters are.”

    It occurs to me that council could very well believe “…that it ‘won’.” Yes, I believe they could very well be that naive and unsophisticated in how this stuff works, i.e., babes in the world-of-business woods.