Jim Thompson ask some pretty direct questions: How did the LPMA manage to spend a reported $97,000 on legal costs.

By Pepper Parr

May 8th, 2022



Today is the kind of day the boaters would have been out washing down the decks of their boats and preparing for the launch.  Will there be a launch this year – not something anyone can be really certain about.

The LaSalle Park Marina with a rendering of the wave break in place.

Jim Thomson delegated before a Standing Committee and gave Councillors some background on the problems with insurance coverage for the LaSalle Park Marina.

Jim Thomson – asks a lot of questions

Thomson is not a boater, he is not a member of any of the associated clubs.

His only involvement with the marina was a complaint he made back in 2016 when he had a complaint about smells coming from the docks which in those days were hauled out of the water every year.  The shellfish had accumulated – he called the city – got nothing and decided to call the health department – guess what – the city responded.

Jim was just as  direct with Council. Thomson knew that the law suit that was impacting the renewal of an insurance policy was something the city knew about the day the claim was made – the city was originally a party to the claim.

Somehow the city got themselves removed from the claim but that doesn’t detract from the fact that they knew..

Slip and falls tend to be in the $10,000 to $40,000 range – how do you spend $97,000 on legal fees and still not have a settlement?

Thomson believes that the claim – a slip and fall event, has eaten up $97,000 in legal fees.

The only people who know who filed the claim is the LPMA Board and of course city hall.

Thomson said that slip and fall claims tend to be between $10,000 and $40,000 with few being at the high end.

The slip and fall claim was served early in 2019 – the most recent operating agreement with the city was signed later in the year.

Thomson wonders was the matter of the insurance was not brought up at that time – where is the proper due diligence Thomson asks.

If the city was able to get itself off the claim that would suggest the accident took place on one of the links between the rows of boat slips.

Is this a pace city hall can work at?

A lot of questions – not many answers at this point.

City manager Tim Commisso – commenting during the Marina delegations.

Thomson has an interview being set up with City Manager Tim Commisso – no date yet.  It will be a telephone interview; tough to present an argument that way.

Thomson had an issue with an item being on the agenda with no report that people could read before taking part in the meeting.  Burlington is at a point in its pandemic evolution where people can delegate in person.  Thomson was very much in person.

He told Council it needed to “act instantly or boaters will lose their season.

He told Council that “Staff doesn’t know what’s to be done” and that “Staff has no idea of the problems”.

Thomson also said:  It’s hard to delegate on a report that arrives late on the agenda adding that “a verbal update” doesn’t leave any room for community comment at the committee stage.

Where, Thomson wanted to know is where was ” the transparency we’ve all been hearing so much

Thomson filled in some of the information holes:

LPMA Claims history has caused current insurer to cancel.

Rick Craven, a former ward 1 Councillor identified two outstanding claims as slip-and-fall lawsuits.

Are there other claims that have been settled? Has the City reviewed the claims history?

Is this where the slip and fall took place?

Are the docks un-safe?

Do they need modification to reduce slips/falls?

Thomson quoting the the Burlington Boating and Sailing Club Commodore Scott Lowell: “It is now imperative that the City of Burlington assume direct management of what in the end is their marina (they own the wave- break and the docks) and move quickly to open the marina,”

Thomson doesn’t buy the imperative argument. “There is significant cost to the city running the marina; Not something the City should be rushing into

He added that the the City is in possession of a report on running the marina that would result in an  operating loss of $196,750 for the year 2022

The data in the 2019 report assumed the city would already have been operating the marina for two years. It also assumed that the city would have about 9 month to plan the take-over.

Thomson left City Council with these thoughts”

Is all the data, background information and history coming together to form a perfect storm?

The lease on LaSalle Park is up at the end of the year.

What happens next year?

The City needs a Master Plan for LaSalle

If the City wants a Marina do it right

Council and staff need to stop improvising

A lot more to come on this file.

Stay tuned.

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7 comments to Jim Thompson ask some pretty direct questions: How did the LPMA manage to spend a reported $97,000 on legal costs.

  • Joe Gaetan

    The overriding question is, will this become an election around the corner, rinse, and repeat, let’s use the reserve fund to solve it gambit? Seeking forgiveness for the non-sequitur, when was the last time there was a lawsuit over errant golf balls at Tyandaga GC?

    • Jim Thomson

      Does the city have any reserve funds left?
      I think they will just kick the can down the road and leave the mess to the next council.

  • Penny Hersh

    In the real world….if no insurance company will insure a business that says it all.

    The Marina is not a viable operation. A volunteered based operation is not sustainable.

    I realize that there are some services in the city are not expected to make money and in fact the city will subsidize them for the good of the residents.

    A Marina or a Golf Course, for that matter, benefit only a few, and should not fall into the subsidizing or running of their operation.

  • Glenda Dpdd

    time to let the marina live or die on it’s own….NO support from City…period

  • Bruce Leigh


    Slip and falls $10,000 to $40,000? Maybe 20 years ago. And those would be the settlement amounts paid to the claimant and would not include the policyholders legal fees, paid by its insurance company. The amount of any settlement is highly dependant upon the nature of the injury sustained by the injured party.

    When a policyholder reports to its insurance company a claim made against it, generally the insurance company is under the terms of the policy to assume the defence of the policyholder and pay the legal expenses incurred in the defense. The insurance company is provided total control of the management of the claim.

    I would suggest the City is probably being defended by the LPMA policy’s insurance company as it would likely be included as an additional insured. That means the City is drawn into a claim resulting out of the actions of the LPMA, the City will be protected by the LPMA’s policy.

    Certainly the broker would have know some 3 to six months in advance of the policy expiry date that the insurance company would not be offering renewal terms. Note the insurance company did not cancel the policy it declined to renew it.

    RSA is acting irresponsibly as many insurance companies do. It offers a policy (likely with a limit of $1million) for a premium that will be eroded by the smallest of losses. Then it non-renews. Ishould be taking a wider view where and look to ensure hat the premiums it gets from the book of business (in this case, Marina Insurance) will outweigh all the claims from that book.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: RSA stands for Royal Sun Alliance.

    • Jim Thomson

      I don’t pretend to know much about insurance. I do know 97K is quite a chunk of legal fees.
      I got the 10k-40k from the web as averages for Canada, and I understand it’s all about the extent of injury and the ability to prove negligence.
      I don’t know the details but the city insurance specialist at the committee meeting said that the city was named in claims but it’s all being covered by LPMA insurance. So you are probably correct about the city being on the LPMA policy.

      Interesting that LPMA say they were only advised of non-renewal on March 22nd.

  • Jim Thomson

    A small correction Pepper. There are two slip and fall lawsuits filed in 2019 and LPMA stated at the committee that there are $97,000 in legal fees already spent with no settlement. It’s not my belief, its something that I learned listening to the delegation. Something that should have been in the staff report.

    The city can’t act on the BS&BC fantasy timeline

    The BS&BC chart shows that despite all the times they have delegated in support of the wavebreak they don’t understand the process.

    As the Mayor gratuitously pointed out to me, nothing gets decided at committee. Decisions only get made at council. Staff can’t act until after the council meeting on the 17th.

    Of course there could also be a special council meeting called before the 17th. BS&BC timeline does start at a “Special Council Meeting”.