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'It's disgusting': Outrage grows over North Shore wastewater plant's $3.86-billion budget


Politicians and other officials are voicing their displeasure after Metro Vancouver announced the budget for the troubled North Shore Wastewater Plant project has grown to $3.86 billion.

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.

The two parties remain in a legal battle over the project in B.C. Supreme Court, where each side has filed a lawsuit against the other.

Metro Vancouver now predicts the increased budget will now cost each North Shore household an extra $725 per year for the next three decades.

"I'm incredibly concerned about the impact that this will have on families on the North Shore,” said Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale.

“Families are already burdened with (rapidly increasing) costs of living."

Once the legal battle between Acciona and Metro Vancouver began, all meetings regarding the project took place behind closed doors.

"Councillors and the public have almost no information about what's gone wrong with this project,” District of North Vancouver Coun. Catherine Pope said.

Pope is now calling for an investigation into the project.

"Lets figure out what went wrong, why it was delayed, and why are taxpayers having to pay so much,” she said.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is also sounding the alarm on the drastic increase in budget.

“It’s disgusting,” said Carson Binda, the CTF's B.C. director.

The CTF would like to see the Auditor General for Local Government office re-opened after it was closed by the BC NDP in 2021.

"What we need is a robust system, a watchdog with teeth in B.C. to look after these kinds of local government projects,” Binda said.

The plant – which 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) – now has an estimated 2030 completion date.

On Friday, Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner and CAO of Metro Vancouver, said the latest cost estimate takes into account several challenges that weren't present when the project was being planned some 13 years ago.

"We’ve seen tremendous changes in market with COVID, with inflation, with rising interest costs and severe labour shortages," Dobrovolny said

The commissioner said "significant work" was also needed to address "design and construction deficiencies" with the project.

The B.C. and federal governments made a combined contribution of $405 million in 2017, but Dobrovolny says they’ll now need more.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel Top Stories

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