Pier a costly quagmire

Burlington councillors had our first briefing on the pier in December with legal counsel – and unfortunately without the public allowed. That must change.

Talks with pier contractor broke down in 2010
Talks with pier contractor broke down in 2010

But there really wasn’t much we learned that was new. The options before us remain the same: tear out the pier, complete it with the current contractor, or re-tender the project. As to costs, regardless of the option we choose, it will be more than any of us will want to pay for this nice-to-have project.

Each option has tradeoffs, and on those your feedback is welcome.

If getting the pier done quickly is your top priority (and many of you have told me it is), we need to consider the contractor’s offer to finish the pier with a new team, first tabled in September. A deal would probably require abandoning the lawsuit against them. How important is it to you to retain the ability to sue the contractor for cost overruns to date (knowing there’s no guarantee we’d win in court)?

Re-tendering keeps our legal options open, and brings in a new team, but the re-tender process itself extends the timeline and adds to costs.

Finally, how far do you want council to pursue our legal battle to seek redress from some or all of the players, including the contractor and engineer? We could recoup some or all of the cost overruns, or end up with little more than a costly legal bill.

Further, the legal battle itself has slowed this process and seriously compromised community consultation and openness.

We’ve been told it’s unlikely the pier will be completed before 2012 or even 2013.

In December, council passed a motion to file appropriate papers to protect our rights to seek legal action; to find a new project manager; to seek a final response from the contractor’s bonding company about what they’ll pay (if anything) before taking our next step; and seek ways for greater information sharing and community input.

So, all options are still open at this point. Your feedback is welcome.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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