Pier completion on track, but troubling questions remain

Tender bids publicly opened Aug. 26, 2pm, City Hall

Update Aug. 31, Community Services Comm. 6:30pm, City Hall

Burlington's unfinished pierThe retender for the pier is on track with bids expected to be opened publicly this Friday at City Hall. We’re all hoping this will restart the project toward successful completion, and many of you have contacted me to say you’re looking forward to this addition to our waterfront.

I’ve also heard from residents concerned with the escalating cost, a concern I share when we have more important priorities – including the newly announced redevelopment of our hospital.

Some residents want the pier demolished, and certainly it’s a nice to have, not a need to have.

The majority view on council and among residents is toward completion. I supported negotiating with a willing contractor as the most timely and cost effective approach, and did not vote for the retender or the additional $5.8m budget. Now that we are on the retender path, I will work to ensure its success.

But our drive to complete the pier can’t come at any price to the taxpayer and the city’s reputation. Events over the summer – including a dispute that threatened to derail the retender process – have raised troubling questions about how this process is unfolding that deserve transparency and accountability to taxpayers.

Pier trestle dispute

A dispute arose with Bermingham, who built the temporary trestle used to construct the pier, over outstanding payments and potential use of the trestle by new contractors.

The retender documents initially said contractors would not be able to use the trestle. Bermingham was told to remove it, and as a subcontractor on the project seek any outstanding funds from the original contractor, Harm Schilthuis & Sons. (Read news articles here and here, and city’s statement here). The situation delayed bid openings three times as contractors asked about using the trestle – potentially cheaper than building a new one or using alternative methods.

After it became clear the dispute put the retender at risk, the city reached an agreement with Bermingham to allow contractors to use the trestle. (Read the city’s press release here).

My take: I’m glad a solution was found that saves the retender. Our first response to challenges must always be to use common sense and aim to negotiate a win-win solution. It shouldn’t take an 11th hour crisis to get us here, which is neither good governance nor best practise. Going forward, we must ensure we do appropriate risk assessments and have all the facts before taking a position. In our drive to get the pier finished and move on, let’s ensure we do right by the people we do business with, safeguard the city’s reputation and protect taxpayer dollars.

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.

One Comment

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  1. Hi Marianne:
    Hope you had a good vacation. The PIER, this whole situation is and has been out of control since the beginning. Cam and Rick and the rest were playing in their sandbox (the City) and at the spur of the moment decided to build a pier. Not one of them knew anything about it but what the hell who cares about that?
    I think there will now be a beach all the way from the pier to the canal. Sandsuckers move sand to reclaim water lots in the Bay all summer. Sand that washes in from a great lake to the beach where it settles.
    Besides that we have a dispute about a structure that belongs to another company and the City is now responsible for it’s removal (no matter who decides to use or not use it.) I feel once the City decided to fire the contractor they were then responsible for whatever and whoever was left. We as an employer can’t just say so what if you brought your own structure, erected it to be used on a City project and now the City has fired the person you were working for. Who is now going to foot the bill to remove the structure? Certainly not the people who have the structure sitting beside the pier in the lake. Maybe the taxpayers should spend another few bucks. It wasn’t hard when this whole fiasco began why should it be any different today?
    There is only one answer…Marianne Meed Ward…Someone who cares and is not going to see a contractor left hanging because the City fired the contractor and have sat wondering what to do now.
    The original answer was the correct one, tear it down. We have the best view of the lake anywhere, if that isn’t good enough buy a boat.
    Don Kenney

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