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Contractor on beleaguered North Shore wastewater plant claims district owes it $100M

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation called, Monday, for a permanent auditor who could look into a major construction project that is circling the drain. Metro Vancouver's new North Shore Wastewater plant has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, with the regional government and contractor blaming each other for the fiasco. Ted Chernecki reports – Oct 18, 2021

The key contractor on a billion-dollar wastewater plant in North Vancouver is firing back at Metro Vancouver after the regional district said it is scrapping the project’s contract.

The district recently said contractor Acciona Canada appeared to have “abandoned” the project.

Read more: Metro Vancouver pulls the plug on North Shore wastewater plant deal

On Friday, it said it had “no choice” but to terminate the deal, accusing contractor Acciona of having “failed to meet its contractual obligations, which include delivering the project on time and within budget, as required under the initial fixed-cost design-build-finance model.”

On Sunday, Acciona responded, claiming Metro Vancouver owed it millions of dollars.

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“Acciona Canada has performed approximately $100 million in contracted work for which we have not received payment,” the company said in a statement.

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“Nonetheless, Acciona Canada continues working on the wastewater treatment project, contrary to recent statements by Metro Vancouver officials.

Read more: Contractor seems to have ‘abandoned’ North Shore wastewater plant, says Metro Vancouver

Regarding major layoffs at the site, the company said it had “streamlined” its efforts on core project activities “until the outstanding disputes are resolved.”

The company went on to claim Metro Vancouver was well aware of problems with the project, including “flaws” in the regional district’s design, and said the district had requested more than 1,000 “major design changes” while expecting Acciona to absorb delays and increased costs.

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In a statement, Metro Vancouver denied that it owes the company any money, saying the project contract was amended in 2019 to give Acciona two extra years to build the plant — but that the company had since missed key milestones.

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Read more: Cost for new North Shore sewage treatment plant climbs over $1B

It said the payment process involves an independent certifier who reviews whether minimum contract requirements have been met and that at this point, Acciona “has not earned additional payment.”

“We have made an effort to work together, but we expect them to honour all of the contract obligations,” Metro Vancouver CAO Jerry Dobrovolny said in the statement.

“Given they are years behind schedule for this project, we expect them to be increasing their efforts on site, not reducing them, as we saw a couple of weeks ago.”

Sources tell Global News the two parties are expected to meet over the issue this week.

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