Meed Ward not going to quit questioning pier turbine decision. Her Council members are failing to follow her responsible lead.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 12, 2012  She does it every time – she’s consistent and while she drives her fellow Council members bananas – she strives to get to the point – and the point of cancelling the turbine on the Pier was not at all clear to Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and she had questions.

Mayor may have a lot of explaining to do if Councillor Meed Ward can build a case about why the turbine for the Pier was really cancelled.

Mayor Goldring wasn’t at all sure there was anything to discuss but Meed Ward advised him that she was referring to a document that had been received and filed and that she had a right to comment at length – which she did.

Meed Ward started her comments by saying she was “feeling very unsettled” and the decision made was “not sitting well with her’.  Her sense was that the decision was made for the wrong reasons – she said she was hard pressed to know why the decision was made at all and she wanted to see the dialogue about the turbine on the pier continue.

If each of the reasons we were given is not the reason for cancelling the turbine on the pier – then what is the reason she asked.  All her colleagues sat on their hands.  Councillor Sharman didn’t bring up his usual canard about the “return on investment”.  There wasn’t a peep from the council members.

Meed Ward said she met with the city manager and Craig Stevens of the engineering department but still didn’t feel she had answers that made sense.

To recap the steps that led up to the cancellation.

Contractor says he could install the turbine in half a day whenever the city is ready and that the meters for the net metering program are already in place. But Council didn't want to hear a word of it.

The city was told that electricity from the turbine could not be fed into the electrical grid.  That there was something called the MicroFIT program for which there was a long list of applicants, that included Councillor Dennison who wants to put solar panels on the roof of his health club

Director of Engineering misled staff and council when he suggested that a battery pack – at a cost of $70,000 would solve the problem.  City Council wouldn’t touch that idea and voted at committee to cancel the turbine.

It got a through airing at the Council meeting that approves all the decisions made at Committee.  However, at Council the city learned two things:

That the MicroFIT program was not the preferred choice but that something called net metering was the better solution and that was available the next day if the city was ready.

There was the sound of a jack hammer coming from the pier. Good sign?

At the same meeting Council heard that there were numerous problems with getting the steel that was needed to fabricate the base structure for the pier.  They were also told that the delay with the steel might  mean the city would be unable to pour the concrete that would form the deck of the pier if there is an early winter

That sent a shiver up the spines of every council member and they were not going to even think about something that had the potential to delay this project.

Meed Ward thought the council did not have all the facts or they weren’t paying attention to the facts they had.

She again asked: What is the real reason?  Her view was that the dialogue about the turbine should continue but no one on this Council was picking up on that idea.

Meed Ward said the new contractor has changed much.  `

There is supposed to be more oversight.  “Where was the oversight on the ordering of the steel?

“What assurance are there that we won’t see further challenges.`

Meed Ward was relentless

“I wish I could tell you that we will deliver this on time – I am confident that we can”, which was the best answer city manager Jeff Fielding had.

The matter of re-opening the decision to cancel the turbine on the pier might come down to who knows the Procedural By-law best.

Meed Ward wanted to get this out on the table and continue the dialogue but she wasn’t getting anywhere.  In order for the subject to be opened she had to put forward a motion, get a seconder and then get five of the seven members of Council to vote to just re-open the discussion.

It`s worse than that actually.  Meed Ward would have to serve notice of her motion and then get it on the floor.  Her fellow council members were not going to let that happen

Her only recourse is to bring the matter up again at the next Community Services committee when the next Pier Update will be delivered, which will be June 20th.

This is messy but “Little Miss Sunshine” isn’t going to let this one get away.  She has in the past forced council to go through a recorded vote on six different questions.  She did it once and she will do it again if she has to.

We are rounding the turn at the halfway mark of this council term of office.  Is Meed Ward building election points?   Heaven help them if there is a significant delay in completing the pier – the voters will never forgive them – and they will remember Little Miss Sunshine who stick to her guns like Annie Oakley.

Meed Ward has always believed that the city should have tried to work something out with the original contractor who walked off the job, when he said he could not build a pier based on the design he was given.



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3 comments to Meed Ward not going to quit questioning pier turbine decision. Her Council members are failing to follow her responsible lead.

  • Penny Hersh

    Enough is enough…’s time to move on. There are more important issues that need to be addressed by City Council. Contrary to what Council may think there are residents in the community who would have been more than happy to see the Pier dismantled. The Pier will always be known as the “mistake on the lake”.

  • An ugly wind turbine is offensive to the eye. Let’s focus on preserving the beauty of Burlington’s lakefront?

    • Robert Jones

      the turbine will be a positive and attractive piece of the scenery. Was just visiting Grouse Mountain in Vancouver and they had as a tourist attraction a wind turbine. is in the eye of the beholder. Clean free energy!