Metro Vancouver water treatment plant bill soars to $3.86 billion

The original budget for Metro Vancouver’s water treatment plant was $700 million, and was later increased to $1.58 billion before Metro terminated the contract with the original designer and builder.

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North Shore residents will end up spending an extra $725 a year per household to pay for the completion of a new wastewater treatment plant that has been mired in controversy and huge cost overruns, Metro Vancouver’s board decided Friday.

The bill to replace the current plant under the Lions Gate Bridge will be $3.86 billion through completion in 2030, more than five times the original estimate of $700 million and more than double the revised figure of $1.58 billion. dollars from the former contractor Acciona.

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Other Metro residents will pay significantly less than residents of West Vancouver and the City and District of North Vancouver: $140 per household per year for Vancouver, $80 for Fraser Valley and $70 for Lulu Island/Richmond.

“We’ve taken a big step forward today in resetting the budget so we can complete the project and we need to complete it,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, Metro’s chief administrative officer.

The plant is being built to serve about 300,000 people who will live on the North Coast at the end of their lives in 2100, a population increase of about 50 percent over the current figure.

A meeting of mayors will examine how to implement the highest cost to taxpayers and review what projects might need to be delayed or shelved as a result.

At any given time, Metro has approximately 300 projects underway, Dobrovolny said. But most pale in cost compared to the North Shore treatment plant: Projects typically cost between tens of millions of dollars and a few hundred million dollars.

Metro and Acciona are embroiled in a long-running legal dispute, so Dobrovolny would only say that the company was responsible for the design and construction, and that Metro lost confidence that the company could deliver the project on time and on budget.

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“We have had no choice,” Dobrovolny said. “This project and schedule are not optional.”

The existing plant was commissioned in 1961 and has reached the end of its useful life. It and Lulu Island are the last two large wastewater treatment plants on the west coast of North America that only provide primary treatment, Dobrovolny said.

Federal law requires that plants now have a tertiary treatment, which eliminates microplastics.

The plant under construction ($600 million has been spent to date) is being built on a site on former BC Rail land, two kilometers east of the existing plant.

Decommissioning of the Lions Gate plant and associated site remediation will occur when construction of the new plant is completed. Once the old plant is decommissioned, the land, currently leased to the province, will be turned over to the Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).

The new plant is designed to meet provincial and federal regulatory requirements for secondary treatment and will provide tertiary filtration to better protect the environment. It has a stacked design and several design considerations that support climate action, resilience, and community goals.

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According to Metro, more than 1,500 “deficiencies” in the construction were discovered after the new contractor, PCL, began work. Photographs provided by Metro show holes several meters wide in concrete walls, discovered by PCL engineers hitting with hammers.

Furthermore, according to Metro, Acciona had not done all the design work it claimed to have done.

Three companies were hired to provide new estimates for the project, including PCL. The original deadline for the project was 2020.

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