LaSalle Park Marina hits a speed bump -financing the project begins to look problematic.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2016


Some momentum is being lost and the boaters at LaSalle Park are now facing an uphill battle to get the funding the need in place for the expansion the LaSalle Park Maria Association has in mind.

John Birch has been a tireless advocate for an upgraded harbour that would protect the boats from some of the rough waves that would roll in and was doing very well with his plans.

Trumpeter - skidding to a stop

Trumpeter swans were once the biggest problem the LaSalle Park Marina Association had in getting approval for their wave barrier project. It isn’t the swans putting on th brakes – city hall is taking a closer look at the business model.

He had run into some resistance from the Trumpeter Swan people who felt the planned harbour would take their habitat away from the birds.

That isn’t the main problem anymore.

The LPMA financing always looked like a bit of a stretch but in the past the association had always met the financial obligations.

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

The LaSalle PArk Marina Association wanted to build a wave barrier – the financial model they have used is making city hall uncomfortable.

While the current project is quite a bit bigger than anything they had done in the past it appeared to have merit and it was getting past all the milestones.

The harbour the boaters want to put in place certainly had a number of significant benefits for the city.

Birch and ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven get along well and Craven does not like losing something his residents want. Expect some tension to surround this one as it gets worked through.

A Staff report had been prepared and put into the agenda for the current cycle of Standing Committee meetings – then it was pulled from the agenda.

“The primary reason” said city manager James Ridge “is that I believe that Council needs to consider the report in a bigger context, and a broader range of questions about the project.

“The report’s observations are also arguably at odds with a recent resolution of Council to provide a letter of support to the LPMA for grant-seeking purposes. This is further reason for Council to pause to consider the project from a more holistic perspective.

“The project involves City owned assets, and it is unusual to have a Joint Venture partner take on the financing for project of this size which invariably entails risks to both the City and LPMA. At this point we don’t have a detailed costing of the breakwater construction, however the City would very likely be responsible for any cost overruns. And as the report points out, we have concerns about the financial model, including the likely need for a loan from the city with 25 year or more repayment. This would also be unprecedented and have inherent risks.”

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

City manager James Ridge

“In comments made to the Gazette Ridge said: “The LPMA was unhappy with the report. However it was intended to be an independent arms-length assessment of their business case. The LPMA was very helpful in providing detailed financial records, and met with staff to answer questions before the report was prepared, but clearly disagree with the conclusions. They have provided additional information that we have reviewed, and we will meet with them again, but the report will reflect the City’s independent objective assessment of LPMA’s business case.”

Ridge as a city manager is turning out to be very fiscally prudent – no risk taking on his watch. Wonder what would have happened to the Pier had Ridge been on the job?

The Gazette will analyze the city staff report and publish a follow up piece.

Touch times for the boaters.

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1 comment to LaSalle Park Marina hits a speed bump -financing the project begins to look problematic.

  • Glenda D

    Not the same as something being built for the community that as a whole that can participate in with little cost to access and use of facilities. LPMA is not for the majority of people whose tax dollars pay for the “government funding” and as a City will be on the hook as residential tax payers for any overrun of development. I don’t know of any venture that has not resulted in overrun cost.

    Vessels are much larger today than when the club was founded and had smaller vessels, the break wall was sufficient for years until it became an issue because of the huge large yachts now wanting to occupy something built for small craft, and the founding club members paid for everything themselves. —

    I believe that those many years ago it became a “joint venture” because the property and harbour belongs to Hamilton…..soooo…..why should the City of Burlington be involved any further….read all the propaganda produced by the LPMA, really, sorry but the propaganda forecasts are just that – a sell job.

    I do not stand behind any letter being sent to government agencies requesting grant funding for this venture.