Metro Vancouver forms task force to guide unfinished North Shore WWTP project

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North Shore
Architectural rendering of the new North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. Graphic: Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver has formed a new task force to review all available options for completing the troubled North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant project.

Local officials terminated their contract with the plant’s original builder in 2021 due to missed project milestones and ballooning costs. Two years later, challenges persist for the project as it faces “extreme market volatility,” says Delta Mayor George Harvie. 

The project had originally been scheduled to be completed by December 2020 at a cost of $500 million, but ended up years behind schedule and soaring beyond $1 billion. 

“This project has experienced extraordinary circumstances that have come at an unfortunate time of extreme market volatility for Canada,” Harvie, who is also Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, announced in a statement. 

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Soaring supply chain costs have impacted projects across Canada. During the summer, Durham Region, Ontario, officials pulled the plug on the procurement process to build a $200-million mixed waste pre-sort and anaerobic digestion facility.

While Metro Vancouver project officials are not revealing a new cost estimate for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant, they explained that they are still working to address the “deficiencies” left by Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP. 

“As we work to define a path forward to complete this project and address deficiencies left by the previous contractor, we are unfortunately beholden to the same extremely challenging market conditions that are significantly impacting infrastructure projects throughout British Columbia and across the country,” announced Jerry Dobrovolny, Commissioner and CAO of Metro Vancouver, in a statement. 

District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little told local media that there are an estimated 1,200 deficiencies remaining for the build project.

Acciona is pursuing a lawsuit against Metro Vancouver for nearly $300 million in the form of damages and withheld compensation from the wastewater treatment plant project. 

Following termination of the Acciona contract, Metro Vancouver hired PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. to act as general contractor on the project. AECOM is the design consultant. 

The new wastewater treatment plant is needed to accommodate population growth and new housing. It’s being built to serve 250,000 residents and businesses in the Districts of West and North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and the Squamish and Tsleil‑Waututh First Nations. The new plant will improve the quality of the treated wastewater released into the Burrard Inlet.

The project also involves decommissioning the existing Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Over the coming months, task force officials said they will present the Metro Vancouver Board with “options for careful consideration.” The timeline for the task force to report their findings and recommendations to the Board is expected to be mid-2024. 

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