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North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant spends beyond halfway mark of new budget

The controversial and delayed project had incurred nearly $600 million in costs as of April 2023.
Aerial photo of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant project in North Vancouver, from the April status report

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant incurred $598 million in costs as of April, more than half the total budgeted for the troubled North Vancouver project. 

The monthly status report for April, released by Metro Vancouver under freedom of information, shows $682.3 million had been committed to date. The total budget is almost $1.058 billion, double the $525 million announced in 2017 by the original design, build and finance contractor Acciona. 

The project’s fourth property and equipment damage incident and fifth near-miss happened in April, according to the status report. 

“PCL identified items (electrical cable) that had been taken/removed from their designated areas, suspected to be theft,” said the report. “A subcontractor was observed not in 100% tied-off while transitioning a scaffold above six feet.”

Residents of a mobile home between the site and staff parking lot on West First “have shown aggression to staff coming out of the parking lot and walking towards site. This has been reported to the RCMP and Metro Vancouver Safety Security and Emergency Management.”

The project, backed by $405 million in joint provincial-federal funding, was supposed to be complete in 2020. In March 2021, Metro Vancouver admitted the budget had doubled and the plant wouldn’t be in service until 2024. Acciona was fired in early 2022 and the Spanish company responded with a $250 million lawsuit. Metro Vancouver countersued in June 2022, claiming more than $500 million in damages, costs and expenses. The dispute has yet to be tried in court.

In March, Metro Vancouver’s liquid waste committee heard that it would cost $85 million more for the new construction manager PCL to fix Acciona’s errors, but that the current budget could absorb the additional cost. The April status report said Metro Vancouver and Acciona are negotiating a product transfer agreement. 

In July, Metro Vancouver staff chose Stantec Consulting Ltd. for a $25 million contract as owner’s engineer and increased the engineer of record AECOM’s contract to $153 million to finish phase two work. 

The April report said that AECOM had around 150 staff in April for a total of 3,300 hours per week. PCL averaged 22 staff onsite for the month and 45 craftworkers and subcontractors. 

The project also includes decommissioning the existing sewage plant west of the Lions Gate Bridge once the new plant is finished, and a new pump station and sewer pipes. The latter, known as the conveyance project, was finished last September, to connect the new plant with the existing outfall pipe near the Lions Gate Bridge.