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North Van sewage treatment plant slapped with stop work order

Work on the massive new sewage treatment plant in North Vancouver has temporarily ground to a halt after the District of North Vancouver slapped a stop work order on the site.
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Work on the massive new sewage treatment plant in North Vancouver has temporarily ground to a halt after the District of North Vancouver slapped a stop work order on the site.

The stop work order on the $778-million project was issued April 10 by the district after the company building the North Shore sewage plant, Acciona, failed to meet certain administrative requirements under the Building Code, said David Stuart, chief administrative officer for the municipality.

Stewart said the district warned Acciona in March there would be a stop work order if the situation wasn’t rectified. “And when they didn’t, we put a stop work order on,” he said.

Few details were available about what prompted the order, but Stuart said it was “more of an administrative matter” involving “professionals” and “certain commitments they have to meet in terms of how they manage and operate the site.”

“We became aware they weren’t meeting that commitment,” he said.

Subcontractor RDM Enterprises, which provides excavation and site preparation, has pulled 20 workers from the site and put them on other projects while the site shut-down continues.

Stuart acknowledged it’s “quite unusual” for one local government to place a stop work order on a massive project being built by another government.

In this case, the treatment plant is being built by Acciona under a $525-million fixed-price design-build contract for Metro Vancouver, the regional government that manages liquid waste for the Lower Mainland. The physical location of the new sewage plant on West First Street is within the District of North Vancouver.

Stuart added, “It would be fairly easy to meet this particular commitment if they wished to do so.”

In an emailed statement, Charles Trad, senior vice-president of operations for Acciona Infrastructure Canada said the company is “currently in confidential discussions with Metro Vancouver” on the issue, adding “steps are being taken to move the project forward and have the stop work order removed.”

Don Bradley, spokesman for Metro, said in an emailed statement that the project agreement requires Acciona “to address matters relating to the order and we trust they’ll resolve these matters expeditiously.”

Construction on the new sewage treatment plant began last summer.

Much of the early work on the site has involved barge loads of sand being brought in to compress the ground on the site in preparation for the first concrete.

According to a recent report to Metro’s liquid waste committee, Acciona has applied to the District of North Vancouver for a building permit to start work on underground parts of the plant. Excavation and construction was expected to begin this spring.

The new plant will replace the aging Lions Gate sewage treatment plant a few kilometres to the west, under the Lions Gate Bridge. That plant is the oldest wastewater treatment facility in the Lower Mainland.

Costs of the project – including the treatment plant, new trunk lines, pump station and new 170-metre pipe connecting the new plant to the existing outfall in Burrard Inlet – were originally projected at $700 million but have now been budgeted at just under $778 million, including a $16.9 million energy generation system that will tie in to Lonsdale Energy Corp. and $30 million in contingency.

The project is being built with $212 million from the federal government and $193 million from the province. The remaining $372.6 million will be paid by regional and North Shore taxpayers.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2020 to comply with federal regulations.