Metro Vancouver announced it intends to initiate an independent review of the troubled North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program.

The original cost of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2018 was $700 million and it was expected to open in 2020. The estimated cost has since ballooned to $3.86 billion, and the timeline for completion has been extended until 2030.

“We at the Metro Vancouver Board are acutely aware of the concerns around how the updated costs to deliver the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program will impact residents of this region,” said George V. Harvie, Chair, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, in a statement.

“Last year, I struck a task force that reviewed the history of the project and looked at options for completing this necessary wastewater treatment plant. Metro Vancouver had three separate cost estimates completed in the past year that informed the final project cost estimate. We also had an external expert panel review the process and cost update at multiple points. The cost estimates considered market conditions, inflation, interest rates, hiring a new contractor, and cost of materials and labour. Task force meetings were held in closed due to the nature of the subject matter discussed, which included commercial matters and litigation.

“Since announcing the cost estimate for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program, we have heard concerns about whether Metro Vancouver is managing costs effectively for the public. We take these concerns seriously and as such, as the Chair of the Board, I am initiating an independent review of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program costs.”

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Jerry Dobrovolny, Commissioner & CAO, Metro Vancouver also issued a statement:

“When the Board hired me as Commissioner and CAO of Metro Vancouver in late 2019, they tasked me with a comprehensive review of our project delivery practices because they recognized the challenges that the organization would face while delivering the many large projects it needs to build. We immediately reviewed Metro Vancouver practices, which resulted in recommendations for improvements. As a result, we established a project delivery department as a centre of project delivery expertise for the organization, restructured our procurement and real estate services department, and implemented enhanced project management processes.

“The current environment for delivering major infrastructure projects is very challenging, and it’s important that we take a realistic approach to estimating the cost of these projects so that we can provide the region with enough lead time to plan for how the costs will be managed.

“It is extremely important to me that the public trust the work that Metro Vancouver does — we pride ourselves on being the foundation of what makes this region livable by delivering world-class drinking water and by applying innovation to our wastewater system to protect human health and the Salish Sea, as well as adapt to climate change impacts.

“I am confident in the process improvements I have implemented and welcome an independent review of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program costs as initiated by the Board Chair.”

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program consists of three projects — the construction of a new treatment plant, the construction of related conveyance infrastructure, and the preliminary design for the decommissioning of the current Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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The two components of the conveyance infrastructure were the pump station and the sewer pipes. Both of these projects were completed on time and on budget by North Shore Conveyance Partners, a joint partnership between Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. and Michels Canada.

Featured image: Rendering of North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Metro Vancouver)

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