New contractor set for $1 billion sewage treatment plant in North Vancouver

Mar 16 2022, 8:52 pm

Metro Vancouver Regional District has created a new framework for completing its much-beleaguered project of providing North Shore communities with a new sewage treatment plant.

In a recent public meeting, after initiating a bidding process last fall, regional district officials approved a $40 million contract to PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Project in North Vancouver District’s industrial area, near the waterfront.

This kicks off the new process and project management structure of finishing the facility, which first saw construction begin in 2018. The project was initially contracted to Acciona Infrastructure Canada, but in October 2021, the regional district terminated its contract with the global construction giant, accusing the company of “abandoning” the project. Under Acciona, there have been significant construction delays and major repeat cost escalations.

The project was originally scheduled to reach completion in 2020 on a $700 million budget, but contract revisions later that year shifted the completion date to the end of 2023 with a budget of $1.058 billion. Last fall, Acciona claimed it was owed $100 million for its services in accordance with scheduled agreements.

North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant North Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Acciona/Metro Vancouver Regional District)

North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant North Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Acciona/Metro Vancouver Regional District)

The now-terminated contract with Acciona gave the company the responsibility for design, construction, commissioning, and process for performance.

Instead, the regional district is abandoning this original framework model and will be retaining a general contractor and design consultant separately under two contracts. The general contractor and design consultant will work closely with the regional district to ensure the ability for “competitive pricing.”

Under the new framework, the services by PCL, under Contract 1, will review Acciona’s design and construction progress to date, create a plan to complete the project, perform some construction, and work with the regional district on a revised project budget and schedule. Contract 1 also includes initiating construction of about 1.4 million cubic metres of remaining concrete works and other “early construction works and site services.”

Based on Contract 1, a new agreement will be made for the construction delivery contract, Contract 2. The general contractor, under Contract 2, will be responsible for the completion of construction and commissioning of the facility, based on the fixed price or guaranteed maximum price and schedule determined in Contract 1. This effectively better protects the regional district from cost escalation and gives the project more certainty for reaching completion.

“The delivery model for construction is an early contractor involvement contract, whereby the general contractor will provide constructability expertise during the completion of the design (Contract 1). Then, if successful negotiation of a guaranteed maximum price or fixed price agreement can be made, they may assume the construction of the facility (Contract 2),” reads a regional district staff report.

Sometime in Summer 2022, the design will be refined with updated cost estimates, and the bidding process for early works subcontractors will take place throughout the latter half of the year. By the end of 2022, more refined, updated cost estimates will be presented to the regional district board.

North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant North Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Acciona/Metro Vancouver Regional District)

North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Metro Vancouver

Project sites for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

According to the regional district, the plant’s design is currently 80% complete, and construction is 87% complete, with only half of the 2.8 million cubic feet of concrete poured to date. However, the new outfall pipe tie-in work is complete.

Equipment and materials from Acciona are currently being removed at the main construction site. The plant is being built on a 7. acre former industrial site, just north of Seaspan’s main shipyards hub, previously used as a rail yard for BC Rail.

As for the conveyance project, the new pump station next to the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge is complete, and outfall pipe construction is progressing, now at 96% completion. The conveyance portion of the project is expected to reach completion in Summer 2022.

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant Project is just one of several multi-billion dollar projects planned by the regional district to renew and upgrade Metro Vancouver’s sewage treatment and water treatment facilities. This includes a $10 billion new and expanded sewage treatment plant on Iona Island, just north of Vancouver International Airport.

Other major PCL projects in the region include the new $2.2 billion St. Paul’s Hospital in the False Creek Flats.

Acciona, an international Spanish firm, is also the general contractor for three major transportation infrastructure projects currently being built, including the $1.4 billion replacement Pattullo Bridge, the $2.8-billion SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension, and the $16-billion Site C hydroelectric dam.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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