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$3.86B North Shore wastewater project could cost taxpayers across Metro Vancouver

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Taxpayers across Metro Vancouver could be footing part of the ballooning bill for a costly wastewater project in North Vancouver.

At a Wednesday budget workshop, Metro Vancouver board members discussed The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant – a $3.86 billion dollar project – and whether its cost should be shared by taxpayers who don't live on the North Shore.

The plant was initially scheduled for completion by December 2020 at a cost of $500 million. Metro Vancouver fired the original contractor, Acciona Wastewater Solutions, in October 2021, at which point the project's estimated cost had increased to more than $1 billion. 

If the taxpayer burden of the project is only borne by people who live on the North Shore, it would cost households an average of an extra $725 annually for the next 30 years. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little, said he doesn’t believe his part of the region should bear the full brunt of the expensive project.

“It’s not really fair for the North Shore municipalities to carry such a heavy load,” Little said. “We’re asking for help from our neighbours to carry that.”

If the cost of the project is split between municipalities across Metro Vancouver households would see about a $140 annual bill, according to Little.

Adriane Carr, a Vancouver city councillor, said she’d like to see an equitable outcome for taxpayers.

“Is it fair to burden those people on the North Shore with really big rate increases?" Carr asked. “Or should we each take a little bit of an increase and make it fair for them.”

Another option the board considered was front-loading the costs instead of spreading them out across multiple decades – a move that would have an immediate impact on taxpayers.

“My recommendation is that it would work if there’s wider distribution,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner and chief administrative officer of Metro Vancouver.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, the board decided to defer the decision to a later date.

The plant is expected to serve more than 300,000 residents and businesses in the City of North Vancouver, the districts of West Vancouver and North Vancouver, the wx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation).

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