Why does all the talk talk about the pier court case get done behind closed doors all the time? Because they don’t want YOU to know.

November 13, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We got asked to leave – again.  Council, meeting as a Standing Committee, was going to take a break for a fast lunch and then re-convene to hear what city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol had to tell them about the latest in the Brant Street Pier saga.

Happy campers? Part of the legal team representing the city in their battle with Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.,  and AECOM

The lawyers who do the heavy lifting for the city were waiting patiently in the Council foyer to update Council on how things were going.  The lawyers are still in the Discovery process where we understand that the information being “discovered” is not all that good for the city’s case against Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. (HSS), the contractor that decided to give up on the job when he believed the plans he was given would not work and AECOM, the company that was managing the project for the city.

The company that did the design of the pier Totten Sims Hubicki  (TSH), was a private entity when they got the job to do the design work but they were bought out by AECOM during the construction of the pier.  That purchase apparently didn’t raise eyebrows at the time.

This court case has been going on since March of 2011 and the city is believed to have spent a significant amount of money going after the people they feel damaged the city.

The pier design that seems to be the cause of most of the problems, was approved in 2003, after several changes.  The city then selected Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. as the General Contractor ion August of 2006.

The pier opened to great fanfare – oddly many of the political types who got the idea off the ground didn’t attend.  Most had good reasons.

It opened to much fanfare in June of this year.

While the lawyers were in court doing battle the city re-tendered the project and brought in a firm that was strong in western Canada to complete the job.  The pier opened successfully  in June and has proven to be a very popular place.  The people paying for the pier would like to have gotten better value and the original contractor who is being sued by the city and also counter suing the city would like to get paid for the work he has done.  There is a couple of million dollars in invoices that have yet to be paid.

The legal costs mount and the Mayor has promised to tell all – once the court case has been settled.  Council has gone into closed session three times in the last 60 days which suggests something is going on and it may not be going the way the city had thought when they originally decided to take legal action.

There is much more to this story.  The suffering tax payers in this province might find themselves facing a provincial election in the spring and a municipal election in the fall with all the details of a significant law suit snuck in between those two events.

The pier was an issue in the 2010 election and might be an even bigger issue in the 2014 election.


They promised to tell you everything – even hired spin doctors.

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4 comments to Why does all the talk talk about the pier court case get done behind closed doors all the time? Because they don’t want YOU to know.

  • Greg S

    The reason that the city would be starting to get nervous is that they don’t have a case.

    At best they can go after AECOM for a conflict of interest and not acting in good faith. Something smells fishy that the design wouldn’t work and AECOM (the owners of the design) wouldn’t deal with it.

    They have no case against Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. and I am sure the damaged from the contractors end are going to be staggering. Even if they are successful with AECOM, I don’t think they can pass the Schilithuis costs onto AECOM.

    Do some research on Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. They are a well respected Hamilton contractor that have been around for over 60 years. They would not go down this road lightly.

    It appears that the city did not do their due diligence at the start, the execution, or the litigation phase. I think it’s time to clean house is the City’s building department and have a good look at the legal advice they are getting and how they’re choosing to use it.

  • Mr. Wonderful

    The legal costs are one issue. Another issue is how this city has been managed behind legal opinions justifying council decisions. Goldring and council have had it backwards all along; lawyers are to be used, and not be the managers; basic amateur mistake costing taxpayers millions. Goldring will not release the total legal costs, but, an insider will.

    Anybody involved in having the city incur legal costs associated with pier litigation should be fired; that would happen in the private sector.

    Watch this council raise taxes and encourage cupcake sales to raise funds for the hospital. Stay tuned to the legal justification why the legal costs will not be disclosed. Love this one, cant wait for the Mayor to speak to how this council can manage the city’s affairs. I would love to write that scripted speech. Amateurs.

  • mary bozelli

    This will utterly destroy Goldring’s chances of re-election if the number is released before Oct. 27, 2014.
    If Burlingtonians thought the gas plant scandal was bad – they better go buy nose plugs cuz this one is much more secret and much worse – smellllllls bad to me.

    • Concerned about Burlington

      Hey – there’s our hard earned money being put to good use. Legal fees for the Pier and then Craven worries about his 1970’s Beachway Park vision of a bigger and better park for those busy 12 weeks of the year during the summer – that will cost millions of dollars – but hey don’t forget – he cares about future generations – not about the people of today that pay taxes and use the trail and signed the petition and filled out the survey. That by the way is YOU