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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