Metro Vancouver says North Shore WWTP construction set to resume as cost estimate quadruples

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Rendering new North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant
While the North Shore project had initially been planned for completion in 2020, that date has now moved all the way to 2030, Metro Vancouver officials announced. Architectural rendering pictured. Credit: Metro Vancouver

Following the completion of a review by a Metro Vancouver Board task force, construction on the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant is set to resume, only now the project price tag has soared to nearly $4 billion, officials announced.  

The infrastructure project had an initial project estimate of $700 million when construction began in 2018, but that was before the project ran into a series of cascading problems.  

Local officials terminated their contract with the plant’s original builder in 2021 due to missed project milestones and ballooning costs. Afterwards, Metro Vancouver officials claimed to find some 1,200 significant deficiencies in the treatment plant that needed attention.     

“The reality is, the cost to deliver the program has changed significantly since its initial estimate 13 years ago,” announced Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner and CAO of Metro Vancouver. “In updating the cost estimate, Metro Vancouver took into consideration the many large infrastructure projects in the market today, which are all competing for resources; the cumulative effect of inflation of construction and labour costs; and the significant work that was needed to address design and construction deficiencies.” 

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While the North Shore project had initially been planned for completion in 2020, that date has now moved all the way to 2030, Metro Vancouver officials announced.  

Ultimately, the project is designed to provide treatment up to the tertiary level for more than 300,000 residents and businesses in the Districts of West and North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, Swx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). 

The Metro Vancouver Board formed the task force in fall 2023. Since then, they undertook a comprehensive review of the overall program and work by staff to develop an updated estimate of the cost to complete the program, which includes the plant, the conveyance project, and preliminary design for decommissioning the old Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant. Cost estimates also considered market conditions, inflation, interest rates, and hiring a new contractor.

“We are acutely aware of concerns around how this cost may impact the property taxes and utility rates of residents on the North Shore in particular,” said Dobrovolny. “We are working on a long-term financial plan to better illustrate to the provincial and federal governments why our region needs financial support to deliver infrastructure projects such as these.” 

Over the coming months, Metro Vancouver will confirm a contract to complete plant construction. While that work is in progress, construction manager PCL will continue early works, and AECOM will complete the plant design. 

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