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New contractor selected for billion-dollar North Shore wastewater project

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant site is seen in this file photo from October 2021. (CTV) The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant site is seen in this file photo from October 2021. (CTV)

Metro Vancouver's board has settled on a new general contractor to finish construction of the behind-schedule and over-budget North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant project.

Staff for the regional governing body are working to finalize a contract with PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., a Metro Vancouver spokesperson confirmed.

The Metro Vancouver board selected PCL at its meeting on Feb. 25, after a "rigorous evaluation process" that "emphasized the qualifications and experience of respondents," according to a statement provided by the spokesperson.

"As a first step, Metro Vancouver and PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc will work together to develop a new plan to complete the project, including developing a revised project budget and schedule," the statement reads. "We anticipate this going to the board for consideration this fall."

The project's original contractor, Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP, saw its contract cancelled in October after allegedly falling behind on "key milestones" and significantly reducing staffing.

Metro Vancouver told CTV News at the time that it considered the project "abandoned" by the contractor, and was assessing its options. 

After the cancellation, Acciona told The Canadian Press it had not been paid for approximately $100 million worth of work it did on the project, describing the cancellation as "regrettable" and "unnecessary." 

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant was originally scheduled for completion in December 2020, but Metro Vancouver agreed to revise the project contract in 2019 to give Acciona an extra two-and-a-half years to complete the work.

Among the challenges that necessitated the extension were difficult ground conditions, space requirements, and geotechnical complications, according to Metro Vancouver.

The cost of the project also ballooned from $700 million - some $400 million of which is being funded by the federal and provincial governments - to more than $1 billion.

By the time the contract was cancelled, Metro Vancouver's leadership had grown concerned that the 2023 revised completion date was also in doubt.

Now, the regional body says it will be looking to begin "specific work packages" - such as concrete-pouring - as soon as early summer in an effort to keep the project moving while it negotiates a timeline with its new contractor.

"We are working diligently to deliver this project as quickly as possible, while considering the best interest of the region," Metro Vancouver's statement reads.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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