Steel beams from the first attempt to build a pier in Burlington finally find a home - over a creek in Ancaster.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 29, 2015


Can one get through a year in Burlington without some mention of the pier – the project that managed to grow from a $6.5 million price to cost more than $14 million?

For those who were perhaps snoozing while this exercise in municipal efficiency too place a quick briefing will help.


It was a grand opening – the Burlington Teen Tour Band marched out to the end of the pier and back to shore with the flags fluttering in the breeze.

The Pier was the dream of a Mayor who left office before the project was completed. The next Mayor hated the thing and everything imaginable happened, including the collapse of a crane, and the first version had to be taken apart before it was completed.

Pier crane down

The day the crane toppled over on the pier construction site – the city began to get a $5 million headache.

The second version did get completed – for a hefty price and a court case where everyone managed to say they had won. Neither the Mayor that came up with the idea or the Mayor that wanted to see it torn down was able to attend the grand opening ceremonies.

The current Mayor, the man who had to take all the flack, managed to get himself re-elected along with the members of his council that approved the pier project in the first place. During their first term they also managed to take a pass on a proposal to build the pier that was first constructed with sub standard steel

The current contractor isn't the first company to have problems with steel not passing tests. Original contract HSS has

Steel beams that were deemed no up to specifications for Burlington’s pier lay waiting for a new home in a contractors yard.

The first builder was able to clear his reputation, get most of the money he was owed and get left with a number of massive steel beams that he kept in a field.

All the city employees who managed the project are no longer with the city of Burlington.

Henrys pier #1

Steel beams that once had a home at the foot of Brant Street in Burlington got torn out and now serve as the trusses for a smaller bridge.

Henry Schilthuis, president of Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., the company hired to build the pier the first time around, is, a practical man who found an opportunity recently to put some of that steel that wasn’t up to spec for the Burlington pier but suited the needs of the Hamilton District Christian High School that needed a small bride to go across a creek.

Schilthuis provided the steel beams, which he admits are much heaver than needed, and is working with the students who will add a wooden floor to the bridge in the Spring.

The bridge will allow the students to get from school property to a sports field.

There are still a number of those steel beams left – so expect a few more stories about that now infamously expensive pier at the foot of Brant Street in Burlington, Ontario.

Background links:

Meed Ward says city paid $5 million more than it should have for the pier.

City didn’t get what it went to court to get – but the award they did get wasn’t that shabby. However, we did pay for the pier twice.

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