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Construction starts on new $700-million North Shore wastewater plant

Warren Frey
Construction starts on new $700-million North Shore wastewater plant
METRO VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver has started construction on the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant, a facility built to new federal water treatment standards. The plant is scheduled for completion by 2020.

Metro Vancouver is taking its wastewater treatment to the next level.

Site preparation on the new North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant is now complete and construction is about to begin on the $700-million project.

The plant is being built on a Metro Vancouver-owned site in the District of North Vancouver and is about two kilometres east of the existing Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has served the community for the past 50 years.

Once the old plant is decommissioned, the lands will be returned to the Squamish Nation.

“The plant is part of a regulatory upgrade to meet new wastewater standards. It’s a decision made nationally with the federal government,” said Fred Nenninger, Metro Vancouver’s director of policy planning and analysis, liquid waste services.

The Government of Canada released wastewater systems effluent regulations in 2012, and Nenninger said this plant is the first to implement the new standard in 2020, with the second being the Iona Island Wastewater Plant in Richmond, B.C.


The challenge here is to build a wastewater treatment plant that’s right across the street from commercial properties and close to residential structures

— Fred Nenninger

Metro Vancouver


Metro Vancouver awarded the design-build-finance contract in April 2017 to the ADApT consortium, which is comprised of Acciona Infrastructure, Dialog Design, Amec Foster Wheeler and TetraTech.

Challenges in building the new plant include its location in a dense, populated area.

“This plant is in a very congested urban location. The challenge here is to build a wastewater treatment plant that’s right across the street from commercial properties and close to residential structures,” Nenninger said.

“It had to be built with odour management systems so there are no odours from the facility.”

Odours are managed by ensuring all tankage is covered and odorous air is then collected from the plant and scrubbed with air filtration before it is discharged into the atmosphere.

“The schedule is all laid out with that end point of 2020. The foundation is already installed, there are 3,600 stone columns in the ground, pre-loading is going on now and we’ll have a concrete pour soon,” Nenninger said.

From a contractor perspective, he said, one of the biggest challenges was getting all the materials such as sand and stone columns to the site.

“We used barges to circumvent traffic issues on the North Shore, and the contractor used a shuttle bus service for employees coming from the North Vancouver sea bus terminal,” he added.

Nenninger also pointed to extensive consultation with the community before and during construction of the new plant.

“The architects spent time with the community and there will be a green roof, community plazas. The community has access to the roof and landscaping is used to disguise structures,” he said.

Consultation is ongoing throughout construction, Nenninger added, “but we started at the beginning with a blank canvas and spent a two-year period where we developed the plant.”

The facility will be designed to meet LEED Gold and current seismic standards and generate approximately 75 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) than the existing treatment plant.

A heat recovery facility will capture thermal energy from treated sewage for use by North Vancouver residents via the Lonsdale Energy Corporation and is projected to reduce GHG emissions by 7,200 tonnes per year.

The Government of Canada is committing $212 million to the project with $193 million from the Province of B.C.

Dignitaries from the all three levels of government, the Squamish Nation and other officials gathered on Aug. 31 to mark the end of site preparation and ground reinforcement and the start of the official phase of construction.

“The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant is a win-win on all fronts. Not only will it provide a critical utility service, but it will use advanced technology to contribute renewable energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said North Vancouver Mayor and Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee chair Darrell Mussatto in a statement.

“The new plant’s clean architectural design will integrate well into the neighbourhood and will bring new amenities to enhance the local community.”

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