Some movement on legal side of Brant Street Pier: City has asked for talks – meeting in closed session Monday to look at their options.

By Pepper Parr


January 24, 2014

There is some movement with the Brant Street pier and its legal problems.  A special meeting of the Community and Corporate services Standing Committee will take place on Monday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

The sign told the story – hell didn’t freeze over and the pier did open.  Now city council has to clean up the mess they created.  Try as they might this council is not going to be able to lay the blame on previous council’s.

Don’t rush downtown to get a seat – this is going to be another of those closed sessions.  The city uses  a Section of the Municipal Act to close the doors when there is a confidential issue to be discussed – and the pier’s legal problems are treated as confidential – they are also critical to the credibility of the city.

The meeting announcement has a Confidential legal department report L-4-14 regarding Brant Street Pier litigation. (L-4-14)  It runs 15 pages long.

So – why the meeting and why so rush rush?

Here is what we can tell you.

There are people within the city administration that want this settled but they get their marching orders from city council and so far – there obviously is not a majority of Council that is prepared to settle this matter.

Based on what we have heard publicly, one of the strongest voices for not settling has been that of Paul Sharman who has convinced himself the city has a case and they should fight it.

The Cheshire Cat  is a fictional cat popularised by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and known for its distinctive mischievous grin.

Councillor Meed Ward must be wearing her best Cheshire Cat  grin – she has believed this issue was settle-able before she was even elected.

Some think that if they settle with Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.,  (HSS)  then they have to settle with AECOM and the other litigants.

Something shifted at city hall and the city’s lawyers reached out to the HSS lawyers and said “we should talk”.  It is not known yet if any talks have taken place – the lawyers can’t arrive at anything definitive until they have instructions from the city council.

The Community and Corporate Affairs Committee will meet Monday afternoon in a closed session – they traditionally don’t report on what they talk about other than to say they talked.

Their report – perhaps with a recommendation will go to Council  Monday evening – again it maybe to just report that talks took place.

Will Council issue instructions to settle this matter?  If they do will they say what they are prepared to settle for?  That’s not the way this game is played.

This Council had at least two opportunities to settle this matter in a way that was fair.  There was an opportunity to go with a solution that was put on the table by the insurance company.  The city had called the performance bond and seemed to think the cheque would be in the mail.

The insurance company came back with a solution to complete the project – albeit at a higher cost – that City Council  rejected, almost out of hand and certainly didn’t tell the public about.

That failure, a close to colossal one, is what has kept the city in litigation for more than two years.

That failure, a close to colossal one, is what has kept the city in litigation for more than two years.There was a second opportunity to settle that may not have gotten to Council.  It was certainly discussed and may have been debated at another one of those closed sessions. An appalling lack of transparency is the one thing that has been consistent with this situation.

The city is now reaching out to the lawyers for at least one of the five litigants and having conversations.  The chances are better than even that the basics of a settlement agreement are in draft form and the Community and Corporate services Committee will consider the options.

Clearly some movement; about time. 

This wouldn’t be because there is an election in the fall and this council wants to get this mess and their mistakes off the table and under the rug?

Background links:

Sad story, expensive story that a dash of transparency could have prevented.

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2 comments to Some movement on legal side of Brant Street Pier: City has asked for talks – meeting in closed session Monday to look at their options.

  • Roger

    A number of councillors – yes this points to Mayor Goldring, Councillor Sharman and Councillor Lancaster who went to council promising open, accountable and transparent government. If ONCE – they side with Councillor Mead-Ward – JUST ONCE – we would have open, transparent and an accountable council – a one councillor said – the issues are far to complex for residents to understand – I guess we are rubes, the unwashed – the uneducated – when someone is hiding something – they usually are

  • marie

    Yes…sad story and a lot of transparency could have and should be…

    No closed door meetings! Council’s discussions on the PIER matter that affects the tax payers should be public and available by webcast. Tax hikes are imminent and we are being fed that it’s all because of the hospital. A $15 Million Pier plus undisclosed legal fees is certainly part of the equation. Dear Council – not only time to settle but time to come clean!!!