Metro Vancouver: Contractor 'abandoned' $1B wastewater project - The Orca

Metro Vancouver: Contractor ‘abandoned’ $1B wastewater project

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Russell Hixson: Plans for the new treatment plant to be operational by 2024 appear to be up in the air.

The contractor in charge of building the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant appears to have “abandoned” the project, Metro Vancouver officials have claimed.

Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP was tasked with constructing the tertiary treatment facility which was designed to replace the existing Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant. The new treatment plant will be located in the District of North Vancouver on West 1st Street, between Pemberton and Philip Avenues, and is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

However, those plans appear to be up in the air.

“On Sept. 29, without notice, Metro Vancouver learned that the contractor of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Project, Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP, significantly reduced staff working on the project,” said a Metro Vancouver spokesperson.

Metro Vancouver officials noted they believe around 130 staff were recently laid off, bringing the total staff on site down to 50 people. Earlier this year the contractor had up to 300 staff working on the project.

“It appears to Metro Vancouver that Acciona has abandoned the project,” the spokesperson said.

The contract was revised in 2019 to give Acciona two-and-a-half extra years to complete the project. Under the current contract, the contractor is obligated to complete the project by the end of 2023.

“While Metro Vancouver has continued to uphold the terms of the contract, including making all payments due, Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP has fallen behind meeting key milestones,” said the spokesperson. “Metro Vancouver expects the contractor to continue to work in good faith to meet the terms of the contract including all health and safety requirements.”

Officials stated they are committed to finishing the project and assessing its options to make sure the facility is delivered.

Acciona did not respond to requests for comment.

The project would service 250,000 residents in the Districts of West and North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and the Squamish and Tsleil‑Waututh Nations. The goal is to improve the quality of the treated wastewater released into the Burrard Inlet. Its design features a modern, enclosed design and odour control system to prevent odour from impacting the surrounding community.

The design includes a heat recovery system to be used by the Lonsdale Energy Corporation as an alternative energy source. The facility is targeting LEED Gold certification and the ENVISION Gold standard. A public plaza and education and community meeting spaces are also part of the project.

Acciona’s website for the project states it has built more than 300 wastewater plants around the world, including the world’s largest wastewater plant recently built and commissioned in Mexico. The company stated that it has been doing infrastructure projects in Canada for more than 15 years.

Russell Hixson is the staff writer for the Journal of Commerce where he covers the construction industry.  Before that, he spent years in the U.S. as an investigative crime reporter. He lives in East Vancouver. Follow him on Twitter: @RussellReports.