Jim Young once again lectures city council about a $4 million spend.

background 100By Pepper Parr

May 11th, 2018



Jim Young was doing it again.

Making statements that made people uncomfortable. His kind of truth is a little difficult to take. At time people want to suggest to Jim that he “lighten up”.

He was delegating Thursday afternoon on the matter of the LaSalle Park Marina and the need for a spend of $4 million to keep the place open past April of 2019.

Jim Young said:
“My delegation on behalf of Engaged Citizens of Burlington today is a plea for common sense. A plea for fiscal responsibility and a request to consider more appropriate ways to allocate funding so that the community benefit of that spending is more evenly spread and put to better uses.

Jim Young with Kell in background

Jim Young

“ECoB worries that $4 million is a lot of money to spend to help protect the private property of a small group of citizens who are surely among the most able to provide that protection and insurance for themselves.

“We worry that our city may invest this $4 million only to find that the property at La Salle Park reverts to the City of Hamilton in a few years.

“In a city where last fall we had to provide emergency funding to keep our transit system operating legally, might better use be made of that $4 million by our transit system?

“In a ward that has no community centre for seniors, children or adult recreation, might $4 million be better directed towards their needs?

“In city with another 2 wards which similarly have no community centre, might we better serve more of our citizens by allocating this money to that end?

“In a city committed to intensification with so far no supporting Transit Infrastructure in place or planned, that money would allow an 8% increase in the Transit Operating Budget for each of the next 5 years to help achieve those intensification plans. Might this be a better investment?

“In a city committed to increasing and improving cycling with a plan to provide a safe North / South Highway and Railroad Crossing might $ 4 million go a long way to building that?

“Can a city that rejected a $100,000 annual expenditure to provide free off peak transit to around 35,000 poor and isolated seniors, in all conscience, justify $4 million dollars to provide docking improvements for a few hundred fairly wealthy boaters?

“That money would provide free transit for seniors for the next 40 years.

“The people of Burlington are engaged and paying attention to city affairs like never in recent history.

The option the LaSalle PArk MArina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due MArch 2013.

The option the LaSalle Park Marina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due March 2013.

“By adopting Option A and removing yourselves from the Marina Business you can demonstrate that you are sensitive to and attuned to the needs and wishes of ordinary Burlingtonians for whom a boat is a luxury while Transit, Community Centres and Cycling are real and widespread needs.

“At the end of the day La Salle Park Marina is not the city’s business to be involved in. It belongs to an incorporated body, La Salle Park Marina Association on land that belongs to the City of Hamilton and which may very soon revert to that city.”

The members of the Burlington Boating and Sailing Club and the LaSalle Park Marina take exception to being referred to as “rich people” who are being given a benefit that others don’t get.

Membership in the Marina is $9200 – up front. $5200 of that is an initiation fee and $4000 is part of the annual fee structure that has a declining balance approach. The two clubs don’t talk all that much about fees and what it costs to be a member.

They tend to dwell on the benefits the city gets and wonder aloud why a city on the edge of one of the largest lakes in the country should not have a marina.

To their credit the Marina has entered into joint ventures with the city for more than 35 years and has never defaulted or even been late with a payment. They want recognition for what they have done.

The issue gets complex with a deadline for the new breakwater the sailors must have and what that will do to the formation of ice in the winter and what that will do to the Trumpeter swans that have taken up residence in the same location as the marina.

Trumpeter swan - magnificent creatures that many think need the marina space at LaSalle Park to survive the winters. Nonsense according the Marina Association.

Trumpeter swan – magnificent creatures that many think need the marina space at LaSalle Park to survive the winters. Nonsense according the Marina Association.

What the boaters face are overfed swans that should not be fed by the public who love the birds.

The swan people would like to see the boats somewhere else – the sailors feel the same way about the swans.

Meanwhile Burlington is unable to come to terms with the city of Hamilton on a price for the water lots that Hamilton owns.

It is messy – and the leadership needed isn’t coming out of city hall.

$4 million is a lot of money – but the LaSalle Park Marina has always met their obligations under the Joint Venture agreements they signed with the city.

Which is more than the Trumpeter Swan people can say when it comes to educating the public about not feeding the swans and then doing something to actually prevent that – maybe having one of their group on hand every weekend telling people not to feed the swans?

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 comments to Jim Young once again lectures city council about a $4 million spend.

  • peter rouleau

    well here I am again may 12 2018. 800 LaSalle park rd.
    both the Downing street financial inc. sign and the for sale sign came down sometime last night, put that in your pipe and smoke it. I guess its up to the new owners to decide what to do with the property. Sorry that the City or the Yacht club missed there chance. Maybe we will see another developer come in or not. This is still on our (concerned citizens ) Radar!

  • peter rouleau

    Good article Jim. An update on the proposed development at 800 LaSalle Park rd.
    A for sale sign went up on May 10 2018. The word on the street is that the previous owners defaulted on the mortgage with Downing Street Financial INC. and now Calder & Wakefield have the listing. It would make a great community Center or education facility of some kind. It might sell for $4000000000 and then the city would own this little piece of heaven.

  • Townhouse Living

    I believe that La Salle marina is a valuable asset for the city of Burlington and it’s residents, however I don’t have an argument for any of Jim’s points.

  • Tom Muir

    Good piece by Jim on trade-offs and opportunity costs made explicit. These are always good questions needing a direct approach.

    Personally, I like having a marina at LaSalle, and my wife and I learned to sail there. I want to see it stay, so kids and others can learn too. It has come in handy for us sailing dinghies and windsurfers.

    As for the swans, I think it a joke that there are signs saying not to feed the wildlife, but it goes on everyday all the time. The kids love it, right by the signs even, despite the contradiction. No way this no feed zone will be enforced.

    We are not going to move them out, and they won’t leave. They are smart like humans and know a good spot to hang out with easy living. I doubt they are in any real danger.

    So there will have to be a political decision made on the allocation of money.

    I vote for some way to keep the marina on a long term user pay minus some fraction of subsidy deemed similar to the other handouts and taxpayer support that goes to many other things that individually serve only a small percentage of the population. I think this would be more people than we imagine.

    I imagine some have considered this question about the marina but I don’t know about much of this, although I seem to recall some past mention.

    Someone in on this should spell it out succinctly, and make it public, say here, and on the City website, while the debate is hot.

    If this has been done, then let people know.

    Jim has done it here for some aspects, and it’s hard to pick language that keeps people who don’t want to hear it happy.

    The other side of the trade-off needs to weigh in.

  • Andy

    Is it me or is the ECOB picking fights with everyone? They started as the voice for the unheard citizen, now they seem to have lost there way. It would be a sad day that we loose the only marina in Burlington (I am not a boater). If Hamilton can run one, with there fiscal limitations I surely think we can manage.

  • Maggie

    I am not opposed to Burlington having a marina. I do oppose spending 4 million dollars on a marina at the LaSalle park location, which does little for the community. If the boaters want a marina there and our willing to pay for it entirely, fine. Taxpayers money should not be used.
    A marina in a location downtown would be a different matter as it would benefit area businesses by bringing in boaters not only from the marina but other marina’s as well. I seem to recall the LaSalle marina plan talks of transient boaters. As a boater, if I was coming from another city and wished to dock in Hamilton harbour I would not go to LaSalle but would continue on to Hamilton where there are an abundance of amenities, many within walking distance. Hamilton has two marine stores, restaurants, stores and galleries. Downtown is a walkable distance or can be reached by bus or an inexpensive cab ride. LaSalle has next to nothing. There is no direct public transit to downtown and a cab would be expensive.
    I am quite surprised at the fees quoted. When I bought my boat in Port Credit several years ago my first though was to bring her to LaSalle as I am an Aldershot resident. I do not recall the fees being that high or even an initiation fee. I rejected the marina because they were not flexible with lift in and out dates. I recently had a conversation with the owner of the marina where I keep my boat and he said he had heard that last year LaSalle was about 40% empty. If this is true, and I have no solid info to confirm this, perhaps the high fees and lack of amenities are the problem. I know there is no way I could afford the fees quoted. Not all boat owners are rich.
    I would like to see a marina in downtown Burlington which would bring in boaters and business to the downtown core, enhancing the waterfront. It’s too bad a marina wasn’t built instead of the useless pier. A downtown marina would also not interfere with the trumpeter swans and other wildlife.

  • Liz Benneain

    I take strong exception to what you have said about The Trumpeter Swan Coalition not educating people about not feeding swans. Our consistent message has been that wildlife should not be fed. We have conveyed this message in person, in our literature and through a very effective poster circulated through social media that has gone out to hundreds of thousands of people. The City needs more and better signage that doesn’t just say “don’t feed wildlife” but explains the harm it does. Have you read the city manager’s report that went to the Committee of the Whole? The LPMA cannot afford to pay for the break wall. Asked at the Committee meeting yesterday whether boaters would be willing to pay higher fees or otherwise fundraise among their supporters to pay for new infrastructure they mumbled and stumbled. One way or another, the cost is going to fall to taxpayers. Do they want to subsidize boaters to the tune of $36,000 per 110 members of the LPMA? Or spend that money on the many other things that Jim Young mentioned in his excellent presentation? This whole process has been backward with the majority of Council and the boaters deciding on a Cadillac solution six years ago without asking the necessary fundamental questions. The Council has been inept. The City Manager has been trying to insert some rationality into this discussion but Council has so far proved incapable of proper diligence on this matter.

  • Michelle

    It would be very disappointing for the City of Burlington to abandon the marina. I do not have a boat there, but I support the boaters and the sailing community. I am in Aldershot and consider it a beautiful place to visit, as is Bronte.

    There needs to be a happy medium. Buying the land from Hamilton should be priority as this is right in the middle of our community.

    I do not support ECOB’s fight against marina development.

  • Michael Jones

    The city of Burlington has many other assets than needing a marina. A marina serves a very small percentage of the population and does not bring in any benefits to surrounding businesses. The swans bring people and tourist into the area to enjoy and spend money at the businesses along Plains rd.

  • SteveW

    FYI the association spent nearly a million of their own money to replace all the docks last year and they are prepared to spend another 4 million for the break wall from their reserves. If the LaSalle doesn’t get the funding Burlington will be the ONLY city on the the shores of Lake Ontario without a marina. But we will have haapy fat swans.

    • Phillip

      I personally prefer happy fat swans to happy fat-cats.

    • Collin

      If they are prepared to spend $4 million out of money they already have, why should the city need to spend it to benefit a very small number of people?