At our June 18 meeting, City Council voted 5-2 to pay 100% of the cost of a new floating wavebreak at LaSalle Park Marina, using up to $4 million from the Hydro Reserve fund. The city is the sole shareholder of Burlington Hydro, and revenues from Hydro go into the fund. Its purpose is for community infrastructure and special circumstances debt for legacy projects.
A motion was approved to seek up to $500,000 from the marina toward several projects, including electrification of the marina, finger docks and/or the wave break. The marina will pay an annual fee to the city for the replacement of the next floating wavebreak, expected in 28 or so years.
Council supported my motion to establish a Stakeholder Advisory Committee and ongoing monitoring/mitigation plan for the impact of the new wave floating wavebreak on the Trumpeter Swan population that winter in the marina. These were conditions imposed by the Minister of the Environment for a permanent wavebreak, but not required for a floating wavebreak. I’m glad council saw their importance, and supported the motion.
My Take: I (along with Councillor Taylor) did not support the community paying 100% of the cost of the new floating wavebreak, drawing down reserves intended for infrastructure.
Some in the community have misrepresented my position as being against the marina. I support having boating facilities here. The issue was never about whether or not to have a marina; it will continue as it always has. The issue was about who pays for the new floating wavebreak.
We ask our other community groups and users, which are also volunteer-run and have provided a valuable service to the community for decades, to pay a portion of costs for capital upgrades. I believe it is reasonable and fair to ask the marina users for a contribution, and unreasonable to ask the taxpayers to give up $4 million in a reserve set aside for infrastructure improvements.
I brought a motion (lost) asking the marina users to contribute $500,000 toward the wavebreak — money we were told was raised specifically for that purpose. The motion was watered down and now includes other items like electrification and finger dock replacement — even though the finger docks are new and electrification or similar upgrades should be paid for out of annual fees. I supported the motion in the hope that at least some of that money would go toward the wavebreak (but there’s no requirement for that).
I also put forward a motion at committee (lost) that would provide the marina a loan to pay for the wavebreak over 28 years (the expected life of the new wavebreak). This time would allow ample opportunities for fundraising, fee adjustment at the marina, grant programs or other means to pay for the next wavebreak.