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Editorial: sewage plant debacle fails to pass the sniff test

Expecting North Shore taxpayers to swallow a hefty tax increase without explanations is unreasonable
Looking up to the top inside the digester tower during work on the massive new sewage treatment plant construction project in North Vancouver in March 2021. The project budget has quadrupled since then. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

News that costs for the North Shore’s new sewage treatment plant are now expected to reach $3.86 billion landed on the doorstep of local taxpayers last week like a big pile of you know what.

We’ll be the first to agree there needs to be a serious independent look at this heap of financial caca.

What kind of oversight was there and how did that fail to pick up on the serious problems that now account for a huge chunk of money that must be spent to fix or re-do the work?

How did seven years pass since the original contract was awarded and three years pass since it was halted with so little to show for it, besides exponentially higher estimates?

We are all too aware of the legal sinkhole that has developed around the project. It will take many years to resolve.

In the meantime, the costs that are suggested as ones local taxpayers should have to bear for this folly are in no way reasonable.

That nobody from the Metro board that approved this project thought it a good idea to be present at the public reveal Friday speaks volumes about how thrilled they know their constituents will be.

Lest we think this will be the end of this, let’s not forget about Metro’s plan to replace its other aging sewage treatment plant, Iona – at over double the size – and more than double the projected budget of the North Shore plant.

Given that, it would pay to understand what happened to the North Vancouver project before more cash gets flushed when such problems repeat themselves.

So far, the poop plant white elephant has failed to pass the smell test.