Processes, procedures and protocols could be the death of the marina

By Pepper Parr

May 8th, 2022



Burlington could be on the verge of losing the Marina it has had since the early 80’s

Note that I said “could”

Sunsets and sailors – they are a culture unto themselves.

What might bring it to an end is a clash of cultures – the tightly regulated city hall and the independent minded men and woman who take to the water in their boats.

Lorn Newton, who told Council last week that he has been the President of the LaSalle Park Marina Association for longer than he every expected.

He said:

The LaSalle Park Marina and related LaSalle Park Marina Association (LPMA) were established in 1981, by a group of local boaters. Since its inception the marina has been operated and managed by the LPMA. The current operational and management terms between the City of Burlington and the LPMA are dictated by way of a License and Operating Agreement signed by both parties.

LPMA is a not-for-profit organization consisting of a volunteer board of directors, an on-site manager, and seasonal labor. The marina provides 219 deep water berths for recreational boat owners. We have 165 paid owners,(75% occupancy), awaiting the outcome of this presentation.

We are the home for the Burlington Sailing and Boating Club and the Able Sail Organization. LPMA operates from an office in a trailer located within LaSalle Park opposite the public boat-launch ramp. LPMA is responsible for all dockage of boats and the marina infrastructure.

The LaSalle Park Community Marina, newly improved by the Kropf Marine Wave-break, is in the water and ready to open. However, Our LPMA Commercial Liability Insurance expired at noon on April 30.

This policy is one of four mandated by our “License and Operating Agreement” with the City of Burlington. We have the others in place.

We were advised on March 22, 2022 that the policy would not be renewed. Since receiving the notice of non-renewal, our board has exhausted all avenues to obtain coverage. We met numerous times with the City, council members, our insurance broker. other insurance brokers, our lawyer, and BS&BC.

The proposal of BS&BC that they would assume the Marina operation under an expanded Club policy was not possible as the underwriting was not approved.

We have been advised by all brokerages contacted that they are unable to offer renewal terms due to claims history and changing market conditions.”

The claims history is for two ongoing lawsuits that have been brought against the LPMA and the City of Burlington in 2019, and a claim for motor theft in 2020.

The City of Burlington is the owner of the Wave-break, the Docks and the Wheel-Chair Accessible Entry Ramp.

Our previous “Joint Venture Agreement” and our present “Licence and Operating Agreement” define our responsibilities for maintenance and replacement of the marina structure.

The LaSalle Park Marina with the wave break in place.

We believe there are two possibilities that will allow opening

      • the City appoints an Overwatch Manager for the existing Marina operation while extending their existing liability coverage to the marina The Marina Board continues to function, pays the City for the insurance coverage and pays, to the extent we can, for the city employee’s salary.


      • the Volunteer Board resigns and the City takes on the operation and management of the Marina.

  We offer our whole hearted support and co-operation for any viable option for opening.

Chris Glenn, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture

During the Standing Committee  meeting Chris Glenn, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture told Council that it was going to require some time to get a process and procedures in place for any kind of management change and added that the volunteers would have to be trained in the city’s processes, procedures and protocols.

That statement could be the kiss of death for the marina.  Those sailors don’t take to processes, procedures and protocols all that well.

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12 comments to Processes, procedures and protocols could be the death of the marina

  • Bonnie

    Could someone help me to understand why this is not a public marina. Having relatives who travel from the U.S. and would love to bring their boat, it is our understanding, they would not be allowed to dock at our marina for a weekend.

    It would be wonderful, if folks could travel from places such as the island marina in Toronto and dock in Burlington, to stroll Brant Street and the surrounding areas in downtown. We hear that Burlington welcomes tourists, so why not welcome out of town boaters for a short stay?

  • Mozelle Cole

    Insurance expired April 30th and they are still discussing… Volunteers should not be responsible for anything of this magnitude. This is a business and should be run in that manner. I was/am one of the tax paying citizens not in favour of this council spending 4 million dollars on a wave break for a private club that does not pay the City/us anything to dock there. They are membership driven and costly to join… Am I missing something. Now the City has to scramble to come up with insurance and train volunteers. All the time and money spent on this could pay for more hospital staff and LTC workers.

  • Sorry should have said “full liability”.

  • Hmm two law suits in 2019, not long after the wave break approval, is that the reason for the refused insurance? If the city takes on the operation of the Marina do they take on the liability in terms of the suits.

    • Jim Thomson

      The lawsuits and that liability are in the hands of the Marina’s insurance company.
      $97000 in legal fees with no settlement yet is exactly the reason for the refused insurance.

      What the city takes on is the risk of more lawsuits if there is some design flaw or maintenance condition that caused the slips/falls. Slip and fall lawsuits are all about proving negligence.

      • Bruce Leigh

        The marina’s insurer, RSA, is obviously taking the two claims seriously and it would seem sees some merit in them. Hence why they are vigorously defending each. Though to be frank $97,000 in legal fees split over two claims is not alot. I have seen claims where the legal defence fees exceeded $1million.

        Jim whilst in theory you are correct about liability claims being about proving negligence, in practice in the majority of slip and fall claims that is not the case. It’s about economics. The insurer will generally look to make a settlement with the claimant to make it go away. The settlement would be with no admission of liability and at a dollar level that keeps its costs to a minimum (particularly its legal fees). Hence trip and falls in the majority of cases get settled quickly. Again that seems to indicate there is something more serious here.

        A few additional comments.

        The LPMA has already stated it will cover any insurance cost incurred by the City and continue to cover the operating costs, including any incurred staff costs. Hopefully leaving the City with no additional costs.

        It is hard to see how the wave break could have an impact to cause a slip and fall. Mr. Marsden, do you know exactly where the two incidents occurred? Or are you guessing? On the docks or on dry land? What was the nature of the injuries suffered? How did they occur? Maybe in launching or retrieving a boat, maybe? Just a guess.

        The RSA policy would provide coverage for claims arising out of any of the general operations of the LPMA.

        Mr. Cole. Just think how much money could be saved and dedicated to hospitals and other valuable needs, if only the City did not provide hockey rinks, arenas, community centres, and soccer fields for the enjoyment of its residents.

        • Bruce, you misunderstlood the Marsdens had no idea about the suits never mind what they were.

        • Mozelle Cole

          Mr. Leigh, it’s Ms. Cole if you don’t mind LOL. The last time I checked, “hockey rinks, arenas, community centres” all have a fee. This includes the seniors centre. One has to pay for what one would like to attend. I don’t believe they are free. All I would like to see is a similar charge for docking coming to us (the City). There is a hefty charge to be a member, which means if you are not, you cannot go beyond the locked gates marked “private”. How can it be private if I’m paying for it. I can walk into a hockey rink, community centre, etc. BUT try to walk into the LPM… If you own a boat, e.g., and tow it from Toronto, you can launch it free here. That’s not what we are talking about. This is a private club making money and not paying rent.

          • Bruce Leigh

            My sincere apologies for the incorrect salutation. No disrespect was intended.

            You make good points.

            The locked gates may be a risk management requirement to mitigate potential liability exposures. After all it is a dangerous environment.

            It would seem Burlington needs to transition to the Oakville for-profit model.

  • Mary Hill

    Is there really only one independent minded female boater in Burlington? I find that surprising. LOL.

    Editor’s note: Row,row, row your boat Mary.

  • Wayne Brown

    Perhaps the roles should be reversed. That is, the City Staff should be trained in the ways of the citizen sailors.