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Infrastructure, Resource

Additional $85M approved for PCL to continue North Shore treatment plant

Jean Sorensen
Additional $85M approved for PCL to continue North Shore treatment plant
COURTESY METRO VANCOUVER — The Greater Vancouver Sewer and Drainage District board has approved an additional $85 million to allow PCL Constructors Westcoast to continue to address what it claims are deficiencies plus advance construction for structures on the troubled North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Greater Vancouver Sewer and Drainage District (GVS&DD) board has approved an additional $85 million to allow PCL Constructors Westcoast to continue to address what it claims are deficiencies, plus advance construction for structures on the critical path to completing the troubled North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant (NSWWTP).

The $85 million provided to PCL is “keeping construction moving forward by continuing early works activities at the treatment plant, under their existing early works authorizations,” Metro Vancouver said in an issued statement as a new construction costing and schedule is being devised by PCL to go before the GVS&DD board in mid-2023.

The PCL work includes identifying and correcting what Metro Vancouver is alleging are deficiencies in construction and continuing the concrete work for walls and foundations onsite as well as the new construction plan and schedule for the plant.

The plan and revised cost will consider “current volatility in the market,” said Metro Vancouver’s statement. “These include cost estimates for materials, a shortage of labour, supply chain delays and shortages, and the large number of competing projects currently in market.”

Board approval is required to complete construction.

“Once an updated cost estimate and schedule have been approved by the board, a subsequent contract for the completion of the remaining plant construction will be executed,” the statement said.

The $85 million funding approval was given at the GVS&DD’s March-end board meeting and is addition to $40 million earlier allocated to PCL a year ago when it took over the project from fired general contractor Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP.

The funds, according to a statement issued by Metro Vancouver, are coming from the NSWWTP program budgeted at $1.058 billion. The figure covers the cost of the treatment plant, the conveyance project and preliminary design for decommissioning the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant (LGWWTP).

A Metro Vancouver 2021 staff report estimated the project expenditure at $498 million. The payments to PCL raise the figure another $125 million. The new cost estimate would consider remaining work.

Metro Vancouver is alleging “a detailed review of Acciona’s design and construction by the GVS&DD, PCL and AECOM in 2022 and early 2023 identified that the design and construction were not as advanced as the respective 80 per cent and 37 per cent figures reported by Acciona at the time of termination.”

Metro Vancouver refused a request for an interview, responding only to written questions.

Metro Vancouver is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Acciona, which has launched a $250 million suit claiming wrongful termination and blaming design problems on Metro Vancouver, while Metro Vancouver has launched a countersuit alleging design errors, omissions, non-compliance and delays to the design and construction project.  

Acciona is a Spanish company with an international reputation and claims it has built 330 wastewater treatment plants worldwide. Neither side has proven their allegations in court. 

Metro Vancouver is alleging that addressing Acciona’s design deficiencies has also extended the timeline for development of a plan to complete the project, including an updated cost estimate. The updated schedule will also impact other phases of the project such as the decommission scheduling of the LGWWTP. 

Acciona originally gained a P3 contract for the design-build and construction of the plant in 2017, but later asked for an extension, which took the project into the end of 2023 and also a budget increase that would have the plant costing $1 billion.  

Acciona’s contract was terminated in January 2022 with Metro Vancouver unhappy with the progress onsite. PCL and AECOM took over in spring 2022.

Metro Vancouver is alleging it was limited in the amount of forward construction work that could be done onsite. 

“A substantial amount of effort in 2022 and early 2023 was focused on identifying and repairing concrete deficiencies on structures built by Acciona, with less focus on advancing new construction,” Metro Vancouver alleges.

Metro Vancouver said PCL’s initial $40 million contract was for “early contractor involvement and construction management services.”

PCL was authorized to start pre-construction services in the form of developing the project execution plan, schedule and cost estimate to complete the project. In July 2022, PCL was further authorized to commence specific early works activities within budget to ensure construction of structures on the critical path could be advanced to minimize schedule impacts.

The project’s conveyancing system remains partially complete.  

North Shore Conveyance Partners (Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. and Michels Canada) completed construction of the First Narrows Pump Station and approximately three kilometres of conveyance piping in August 2022. There are approximately 2.5 kilometres of smaller conveyance pipes needed to connect the treatment plant into the North Shore’s sewage collection systems that awaits the new plant substantial completion.

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