Pier court case still chugging away – legal fees getting higher and higher; public kept in the dark.

October 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We don’t hear much about the Court cases related to the construction of the pier other than the Mayor saying he hoped to be able to tell the public just how much has been spent on lawyers so far.

There is much, much more to the legal quagmire the city has itself in.

The lawyers are STILL in their Discovery process; they were going through this phase for large parts of the week before last and some now realize that this case is not likely to get to Court in the near future.

No one is prepared to say just how much longer this process will go on.  Each of the parties involved in the dispute keeps asking questions of the city and every time that happens more information comes to the surface that results in even more questions

Involved in the litigation are the following corporations: Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited vs. the Corporation of the City of Burlington

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Zurich Insurance Company Ltd.

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., Aecom Canada Ltd., Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, P.V &V Insurance Centre Ltd. et al (Insurance Claim)

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Aecom Canada Ltd.

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. vs. Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, P.V. & V Insurance Centre Ltd., the Corporation of the City of Burlington, Craneway Equipment Ltd. (Insurance Claim)

The week that Tom Eichenbaum was named  Engineer of the Year by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and the Hamilton/Halton Engineering Week Committee, he also spent much of his time in Discovery being examined on his involvement related to the construction of the pier at the foot of Brant street.

The award recognizes those who “exemplify the character of the engineering profession and have inspired the young, contributed to their communities, excelled as engineers and researchers, fostered achievement in those around them, and mentored the next generation of engineers.”

Gathered out on the pier before construction was completed, from left to right are:  Brad Cassidy, Tom Eichenbaum, Craig Stevens and a Graham Infrastructure employee.

Some at city hall questioned the criteria used by the Engineering Society in the selection of members they wish to publicly acclaim.  Eichenbaum’s credibility had taken a big hit when the city manager had to apologize publicly for errors Eichenbaum had made around the inclusion of a wind turbine on the pier.  The city eventually decided to forget about including a wind turbine.

At some point an exasperated Judge will bring the Discovery process to a halt after which the parties involved have to take part in some form of mediation.  Can all this be done and then a trial take place before the next municipal election takes place on October 28, 2014?  Many are beginning to doubt that – which will make members of this council happy campers.  Were trial testimony to come out during an election all but one member of this Council would be wearing a thick coat of mud on their faces.

Ward two Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been the only Councillor who has consistently said the city has significant responsibility for errors made and that a settlement has been possible for some time.

It is believed that the office of the city’s solicitor has become concerned about the quality of the city’s case and that there are two members of Council suggesting the city look for a way to settle.  The Gazette is not aware of who the second Councillor might be.

We do know that at the end of each Discovery session transcripts are on the desks of all the lawyers involved the following day and pored over in some detail by city legal staff.  We are advised that the information in those transcripts has not improved the city’s position.

In the event that the case actually goes to trail all this information will become public.

The public loves the pier – they just don’t know yet what the full cost is going to be. The total cost will be a whopper. High enough to make political heads roll? The politicians just might manage to run out the clock.

Meanwhile the public just loves the pier.  Ask people how they feel about the cost and they just shake their heads and wonder what they can do about any of that at this point in time.

Wait until they hear how much the city is going to have to take from taxpayers to settle the judgement that many expect to see Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.  awarded.

At some point the city might decide it is time to settle – they have had at least one opportunity to do so.  If they do look for a gag order to ensure the public never gets the details.

The public does not yet have any detail on the waterfront land the city has decided to sell to private interests.  The law suits surrounding the construction of the pier might get the same “you don’t need to know” treatment.


City’s Court case.

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1 comment to Pier court case still chugging away – legal fees getting higher and higher; public kept in the dark.

  • In Your Face

    Anyone somewhat familiar with legal work such as in the case of the pier fiasco, will tell you the legal costs will be in the range of $2M, if not more.

    The better money spent would be to pay the mayor and council to make a deal without lawyers; who is in charge of this city? Lawyers work as directed by city management, not the other way around.

    Time to fire all those civil servants who had a role to play in the pier construction.

    Another case for term limits for the stooges in council.