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Metro Vancouver terminates contract of billion-dollar 'abandoned' North Shore wastewater treatment plant

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant is over budget and two-and-a-half years behind schedule.

Construction site for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Vancouver, where the project contractor appeared to have stopped work.

Metro Vancouver is terminating its contract with the builder of a billion-dollar sewage treatment plant in North Vancouver after it missed key construction milestones and has appeared to have “abandoned” the project.

Metro Vancouver said it provided a letter to Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP on Friday giving notice of its intent to terminate the contract for them to build the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant which is already two-and-a-half-years behind schedule.

“Acciona has underperformed and consistently failed to meet its contractual obligations which include delivering the project on time and within budget, as required under the initial fixed-cost design-build-finance model,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, Metro Vancouver’s commissioner and chief administrative officer in an emailed statement.

Acciona, a Spanish multinational based near Madrid, had told Metro Vancouver they would require two more years and more money — almost double the original contract price — to complete the plant, said Dobrovolny. Launching termination proceedings was “difficult but necessary” after considering all other options, he added.

In early October, Metro Vancouver said Acciona appeared to have “abandoned” the project and had laid off about 130 of 180 workers.

Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP was selected to be the contractor in 2017 in a competitive process.

Construction at the treatment plant, located on West 1st Street between Pemberton Avenue and Philip Avenue in the District of North Vancouver, started in 2018. It was originally expected to be completed by the end of 2020 at a cost of $700 million.

In 2019, the contractor requested an extra two-and-a-half years to complete the project, along with an increased budget, said Metro Vancouver.

Completion was delayed to 2024 and costs ballooned to $1.058 billion, although part of the delay was due to the plant being upgraded from secondary to tertiary treatment in 2019.

Metro Vancouver said launching the termination process will not change the fact the project will be delivered over the original budget and likely above the current $1.058 estimate.

Its next step will be to select a new contractor as quickly as possible, and will work with them on a revised project budget and schedule.

“At that time we will be able to more clearly articulate any changes to the anticipated project costs,” said Dobrovolny.