Metro Vancouver announced that construction on the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Program will begin again in earnest following the completion of a comprehensive review by a Metro Vancouver Board task force.

“This program is not optional: Building a new wastewater treatment plant that provides a higher level of treatment is essential to comply with federal regulations, and it is absolutely critical that the facility is built to ensure human health and the environment are protected well into the future,” said George V. Harvie, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors. “We struck a task force to carefully and thoroughly explore all of the options available to us, and we believe that we now have a viable path forward.”

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant will provide treatment up to the tertiary filtration level and serve over 300,000 residents and businesses in the Districts of West and North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). In October 2021, Metro Vancouver began the process of terminating its contract with Acciona Wastewater Solutions Ltd, which was responsible for designing and building the new treatment plant. Since then, Metro Vancouver has worked diligently to develop a plan to complete the program and find solutions for design and construction deficiencies.

“The reality is, the cost to deliver the program has changed significantly since its initial estimate 13 years ago,” said 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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As part of the Metro Vancouver Board task force’s work, 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. To develop the updated cost estimate, Metro Vancouver had three separate cost estimates developed that took into account market conditions, inflation, interest rates, and hiring a new contractor. Following this in-depth analysis, Metro Vancouver estimates that a realistic total cost to deliver the program will be $3.86 billion. Construction of the treatment plant is expected to be substantially complete in 2030, with minor connecting works in subsequent years.

“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.

Metro Vancouver looks forward to delivering a high-quality wastewater treatment plant that will protect the health of residents and the environment for decades to come.

Featured image: (Metro Vancouver)

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