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$4 million from city to build marina wave break coming to committee June 4

At Committee of the Whole June 4, council will be discussing a proposal to spend $4 million to install a floating wavebreak at LaSalle Park Marina to protect boats from storm damage. The city would build and pay for the wavebreak, and collect an annual fee from the LaSalle Park Marina Association to go towards replacement of the wavebreak in roughly 30 years. The cost of amortizing a loan over this period is $133,000 annually. The LPMA is not in a financial position in the short term to fully support this cost, while setting aside funds for their own renewal needs. This represents a financial gap to the city in renewing this asset.

An alternative proposal is to wind up the marina, while maintaining the Able Sail and Burlington Sailing and Boating Club sailing lessons. The Hamilton Port Authority is agreeable to receiving boaters from Burlington.

Read the staff report: LaSalle Park Marina next steps, and Appendix A

Register to delegate when this item comes to Committee of the Whole, June 4, 1pm: Delegate

My Take: I support maintaining a marina function here, and have always preferred a floating wavebreak to the proposed permanent rock wall. But I don’t support providing the full $4 million cost at taxpayers expense, which is roughly $18,200 per boat, according to the staff report. When wavebreak discussions started, the city was told there would not be a request for city funding. The conversation we are having now about whether to have a marina and what the city contribution should be, should have happened when this project first came forward. This would have allowed time to fundraise for the project, which is how other community infrastructure is partly funded, or seek upper level government grants.The annual payments should be used to repay the $4 million cost, and over the next 30 years the marina can fundraise or adjust rates to save for a replacement wavebreak.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

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35 Comments

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  1. Sorry I’m a day late. Wind up the marina. All we need there is the sailing club and swans to live in peace.
    I do not see why my tax paying dollars should go to a private group of people who frown if you walk near their private gate. That area is not private. Let’s keep it that way.

  2. I’m a Mississauga resident and board member of South Peel Naturalists’ Club. I’ve seen the success of the Trumpeter Swan restoration project from its early days. I support the work of the Trumpeter Swan Coalition to protect this one-fifth of the entire provincial population of Trumpeter swans. Please check out the coalition website to learn more.
    A correction about the wintering Trumpeter swans : Trumpeters are only hand fed by the Trumpeter restoration group to entice them close enough for the leg banding and wing tagging needed for population monitoring and research.
    Feeding by the general public is not encouraged as the swans can feed naturally from the lake if the water isn’t frozen over.
    I hope that on June 4 the Burlington Council votes wisely. The least harmful option for the swans, other wildlife and the natural habitat that the harbour offers – and possibly even the marina association if it doesn’t wish to relocate- would be a floating wavebreak that can and will be removed every winter.

  3. I don’t think taxpayers should be footing the bill. Many people with boats there do not even live in Burlington. The wildlife is more important! Today’s world keeps erasing history getting rid of all things old. This too is a way of erasing our history and the wildlife.

  4. Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

    Seeing that Burlington Council will make a decision on Option A (cease marina operations at Lasalle Park) or Option B (install a floating break wall anchored permanently in place at a cost of $4 million+), I would like to let you know as an avid LaSalle Trumpeter Swan follower for many, many years my opinion on this matter.
    Option B is unacceptable because if the wave break remains in the water for the winter it could interfere with the wave action at the shoreline that helps keep the area open for the swans to get to the aquatic plants that they feed on.
    The best option would be to not anchor the floating wave break in place over the winter, either removing it from the water or moving it so it doesn’t interfere with the near shore wave action. Then I would have no objection to the plan at all, beyond the concerns I have expressed about the City subsidizing 110 members of the LPMA, many of whom are not Burlington residents, to the tune of over $36,000 per boater.
    PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING.
    Bill Marsh

  5. My main concern is that if the wave break IS built, it shouldn’t interfere with the trumpeter swans. If the wave break remains in the water for the winter it could interfere with the wave action at the shoreline that helps keep the area open for the swans to get to the aquatic plants that they feed on. The best option in this case would be to not anchor the floating wave break in place over the winter, either removing it from the water or moving it so it doesn’t interfere with the near shore wave action.

  6. Yes the swans can go somewhere else. But why should they. The thousands of people who visit the park to see and photograph the swans.. including children during the winter months far outweigh the votes of a couple hundred boaters. The park is a precious gem in this city of disappearing green space. Go Green. Go Bold. Grow is the city’s new motto Last year I was part of nest watch.. I met a hundred people all watching a swan nest.. waiting for the eggs to hatch. GROWING friendships. I witnessed parents teaching their children about the swans.. actually teaching how eco systems work watching young children pick up discarded waterbottles so it wouldn’t hurt the baby swans.This is a stupid waste of taxpayer money.. Stop and think what those words mean… Do not turn Burlington into a unrecognizable city. Burlington has seniors who cannot afford housing. DON’T DARE spend 4 million dollars on something that is nothing more than a glorified boat dock.

  7. Surely there is a better use for the $4 Million that will benefit far more of the population. Considering Lasalle Park is also the home of the Trumpeter Swans I’m not sure any addition/expansion of the marina is advisable.

  8. We have lived in Aldershot for the past 37 years and it has always been a pleasure to walk to LaSalle park and watch the swans and other wild life. There has been attempts to restore the bay with natural life and the effects of this restoration are being studied by graduate students at McMaster. A permanent breakwater wall will definitely change the current flow and affect the habitat and consequently wreck any ongoing long term followup of the aquatic life.
    From the little information gathered to date there will be tons of rock and heavy trucks carrying these loads on LaSalle Park Road, to build a permanent marina for the few hundred boaters many of whom are alleged to be non-residents of Burlington. How much damage to the roads will ensue and at what costs?
    Four million seems like a lot and that is just a base quote. How much over-run has been factored in? If the boaters can’t afford to repay $133,000 per year for the original 4 million loan over 30 years who will make up the shortfalls?
    To me, it just does not seem reasonable for the city to invest probably more than 4 million dollars for a proposed refundable project which is apparently non-refundable!

  9. My concern is for the wildlife, especially the swans. Protecting a few boats, especially at tax payers’ expense, is not in the best interests of the people, also tax payers, who enjoy the wildlife in this area as well as the wildlife itself. Thank you for your efforts to find out what others think about this! Fingers crossed that no permant wave break is built!

  10. Unfortunately most folks don’t appreciate the efforts expended by a “few boaters” to build the marina. The city has been helpful over the years but both the Burlington Sailing and Boating Club and the La Salle park marina pay there own way. While separate identities, both associations are interdependent while providing the nucleus of boating in Burlington. Without them there would be no Able Sail for challenged persons, no sail school to both teach and provide summer jobs for young people and no dry sail storage for the Iron Duke to keep their boats. No mention is made of a potential negative environmental impact because environmental assessment has been done and there are no negatives. While the bay is a key overwintering ground for swans it is so only because they are regularly fed. Kudos to the trumpeter swan coalition for importing this once native bird. But surely there is room for swans and boaters. After all Hamilton Harbor is a commercial port and not the quiet shallow pond like Tiny march preferred by these beautiful birds. Hopefully as a rich, wealthy owner I’ll be able to continue sailing my 58 year old 15 foot dinghy from the Burlington side of the bay.

    • Let’s get the facts straight! First of all, these swans were “not imported”; they were reestablished from populations out west. Secondly, LaSalle Park is an important overwintering refuge for these birds–a provincially significant species; Tiny Marsh is a spring breeding habitat. Very obviously you either don’t know about these swans or are blinded by self-interest and want to belittle the environmental concerns in this strategic location.

  11. Totally inappropriate use of tax payer money. If the boaters want this, then let them pay for it or go elsewhere. These people do not end up in downtown Burlington. They appear to spend most of their time sitting on their boats docked at the marina. It would be wonderful to have the Bay and Park for people and wildlife – no boats – all year round. I’ve lived nearby for over 40 years and enjoy walking there. I can honestly say thT I would not miss the boats and their owners.

    • It is a shame that boaters really need water to boat on. To my knowledge they are people that equally enjoy sitting or sailing on our wonderful Bay as much as others enjoy walking there. The park is rather nice and attracts beaver that destroy the trees. I love the chipmunks and squirrels that ambush people walking along the waterfront trails. I have no love for Canada geese that were a threaten species when I was in grade six.

  12. LaSalle is a public park and taxpayers funding a mariana for boaters is not appropriate. If the existing marina
    stays in place the boaters should fund a floating wave breaker. When the marina started the LPMA had a fund for future maintenance, now boaters want tax payers to bail them out.
    This park is used by nature devotees, photographers and birders throughout the year and a permanent mariana would interfere with this enjoyment if left in all year. Moving the boats to Hamilton is the best option. The second option is to have the boaters fund a replacement floating wave breaker themselves which was the intention when this started decades ago. To much money has already been spent on this project do to poor management.

  13. Thank you for your efforts with respect to this issue Marianne. We want to add our voices to those who have written to suggest that this is an entirely inappropriate use of municipal funds There are so many negatives to the use of this location for a marina, not to mention the harm it will cause to the environment and our swan population. We are hoping that a decision will be made that will serve the interests of the majority of our residents rather than cater to the few.

  14. This just isn’t right for the citizens of Burlington to have to foot the bill for this breakwall. Many of the people using this marina are not even Burlington residents. ItSs only serves the need of a few for 7 months of the year. It would be such a shame to put in that permanent breakwall that will affect the wintering Trumpeter Swans which people love to visit during the winter. They have a big following and folks come from far and wide to see them. There are far more people who visit Lasalle to see the swans, geese and other waterfowl than there are to see the boats.

  15. This is NOT an appropriate use of taxpayer funds! These are PRIVATE wealthy boat owners that want taxpayers to pay for their PLEASURE BOATS! Most people are having enough trouble paying their bills to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table – they do not need to be funding RICH PEOPLE’S EXPENSIVE TOYS!

    • Damn! I never knew I was a wealthy boat owner nor did I realize my 15 foot dinghy was an expensive toy. I just figured I was like the rest of we normal folk that didn’t have the money to golf. Good to know!

  16. Marianne, you say that you are running for mayor “to bring a citizen’s voice back to city hall”.
    However, your support of handing over $4Million of citizen’s money for this project seems like more of the same from city hall to me. What happens if the boaters can’t pay the annuals ? The city is stuck with it, that’s what. What happens if further work needs to be done ? we the taxpayers are on the hook again…see pier.
    If you truly believe in a citizen’s voice, please stop city hall from spending our hard earned money on projects proposed by small lobby groups such as these boaters or cyclists.

    • Victor, I did not support the city funding $4 million. The financials for the marina (vetted by our staff and an independent auditor) showed they could pay for the $4 million over 28 years. The city said this should be earmarked to replace the breakwall in 28 years when the one they install today will need replacement. I said it should be used to pay for the one installed today, and over the course of 28 years, through a combination of fundraising, rate restructure or other methods, the marina has lots of time to find a way to pay for the next one when they need it in 28 years.

  17. A plain and simple ” no way ” People go there for many reasons one of which is boating. If Hamilton is willing to accept these craft then what is there to decide ?

  18. I am not in favour of this project but if the boaters want it they should pay for it.
    Environmental assessment and all.

    This should be financed the same way the Freeman station was.
    Fundraising

  19. Absolutely not appropriate for city funding for those few who are fortunate enough to have boats in this area.

  20. I agree with Philip’s comments. This is too costly to taxpayers for the benefit of a few boaters and the environmental impact is unknown.

  21. I fully support the creation of a permanent break wall at the marina. It is a good use of funds and keeps people coming back to downtown Burlington. I also do agree that a new marina on the Lake Ontario would be better but I do not believe that council has the same forward vision. Council already has spent millions for a handful of cyclists, so spending some more for the many boaters is fair.

    • It is not a good use of funds, hundreds of thousands of dollars has already been spent on the marina. As far as money spent on cyclists – and it is not in the millions – at least that is a sport that requires no more than the cost of a bicycle and helmet and is something every “Burlington” resident and others can participate in, unlike a marina closer to Hamilton than “downtown Burlington” that last I heard had more people living outside Burlington that in the city, or at least a good number of non residents, why should my tax dollars support that.. I live downtown Burlington and enjoy going to the pier but not for the yachts , I would prefer the water view without the yachts blocking the view.. The pier will always be there for people to launch small water craft. I do not believe a marina so far removed from downtown Burlington with a few hundred boaters brings any noteworthy business to Burlington…My memory of my Uncle’s boat at a marina was we and most of the people we knew brought their supplies from home, they did not shop on the way to the boat for such supplies,

  22. Joint Venture groups in the city are required to fund their projects either through their own resources, Trillium grants and/or a Joint Venture loan from the city. If the marina users were aware of this requirement (new wave break) for several years, why was fundraising not started then instead of expecting the city to pay for it? The question is, what amount are the marina boat owners prepared to pay for this project? How about $18,200 per boat?

    The LPMA states they are not in a financial position in the short term to fully support the $133,000 payment per year to repay a $4 million loan over 30 years. Surprise! A joint venture loan from the city is NOT interest free.

  23. This is NOT an appropraite use of municipal funds. For starters the marina has VERY limited services and would be better placed on the Lake Ontario frontage of Burlington, similar to ALL other cities west of Toronto. The club is being self centred and short sighted to meet self servicing interests. I have been a previous member so don’t feel I am speaking out of turn.

  24. I don’t believe taxpayer dollars should be used for this project, the marina association should’ve had a reserve fund study and funded this many years ago.

    • I agree. There are few, if any, economic benefits to Burlington. I don’t believe the City should be in the business of funding a recreational activity that benefits so few people; in addition, many of these boaters are from out-of-town. Further, no mention is made of the potential negative environmental impact; this area is a key overwintering ground for the trumpeter swan, a provincially significant species.

What's your take?

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